Does it feel like your dog takes you for a walk? When you put the leash on and try to lock your front door, is your dog already pulling you down the street or jumping up on her back legs? It is understandable why dogs love to go for walks. The excitement level is normal too. However, being dragged or yanked as you walk your dog is not good for you, for her, and is unsafe. It’s important to master the walk to make sure your dog doesn’t ever run out in traffic, you don’t get pulled and fall, and that your dog knows you’re the one in charge of the walk.
5 Tips for Walking Your Dog
- Walk in front of your dog – your dog will see you as the leader and while your dog has a faster pace, stopping, making her sit, wait, and then you taking the first step will slowly but surely establish that you are the leader. You should always be the first one out the door and the first one inside. Try to make sure your dog is a step behind you or next to you during a walk.
- Use a short leash – a 6ft leash is the standard and best length to use. Put the loop around your wrist and hold the leash in your hand like you were holding a rope. This way if your dog does pull, you’re not holding onto the loop handle, you’re holding the leash itself and the loop is securely around your wrist. It gives you more control. The leashes that are retractable with the plastic handle are not good to use when training your dog. One quick dart and the plastic handle is out of your hand and being dragged behind your dog as she chases a squirrel or gets scared and runs away from the leash. Always keep your dog’s safety in mind.
- Take time – if you’re retraining your dog to walk, make sure you can dedicate the time to have a slow, patient walk. A fast walk before work won’t give you time to stop, correct your dog, and start again. Training takes real time. It might mean you have to get up a little earlier for the morning walk and dedicate more time to the evening walk. Reward your dog with praise, time to sniff things, and treats. You decide when the sniffing time is over and you decide where you both go. Remember, you’re the leader.
- Keep leading after the walk – ask your dog to sit when taking the leash off, ask your dog to sit before being served food, and keep the leadership role going in the house. Have your dog wait before you give her any treats or allow her into a room. It’ll reinforce that you’re in charge.
- Reward your dog – whenever your dog does something you like, let her know. Reward her with treats, pets, and praise. After a walk, rewarding with some food and water is also a way to show that she did a great job. Play time can be the best reward and another chance to reinforce commands. Let her run around chasing a ball or run with you around the yard but reinforce commands like sit, stay, and come while doing it.
Image from Charlestondogwalk.com