Dog Walking: Know the Basics

Dog Walking: Know the Basics

One of life’s undeniably simple pleasures—for pet owners, that is—is taking a relaxing stroll with your pooch. No doubt, this was one of the visions you had when you cuddled your furry buddy for the first time: an effortless stroll, easy and breezy, waving at your neighbors and just enjoying the day. All sunshine.

That is…until it isn’t all sunshine. Until it’s a full-blown sidewalk tug-of-war: the pulling and the wandering! The defiance! Or, even worse, the pooch who just flat out sits down and refuses to budge. What’s a walk-loving dog owner got to do to reclaim the peace? First... breathe. We’re here to help! We’ve gathered the best dog walking tips, straight from the pros.

Next time you decide to take your dog for a walk, try a few of these tips to see if it helps smooth out the ride. (And until then, pretend you’re in a hardcore boot camp-style workout, led by Sergeant Ruff-Enough. Squeeze those glutes!).

Reward Calm, Controlled Behavior

And, it starts before you even leave the house. Once your dog sees the leash, or you head outside, he is bound to get excited. This is a great opportunity to teach them that good things come to those who wait. Ask your dog to sit. And only if, and when, he sits should you fasten his leash. Don’t budge on this one; it sets the tone for the entire walk.

Stop Pulling the Leash

Confusing, right? Your dog is fighting you with the leash, and the instinct is to tug like hell in return! This can have the opposite effect on your dog: he’ll likely want to pull even more.

Here’s why: Dogs have an opposition reflex. In other words, they want to resist anything that works against them. Nifty accessories such as chest-clip harnesses and head halters can minimize or nix this behavior. These tools shift your dog’s sense of gravity to make them pull in such a way that they work with you.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

We’re not just talking about those oncoming cars. We’re referring to it all – the mail truck idling at the corner, the toddlers playing in the yard, that gorgeous flower bed in bloom. These are all adventures to be had; no wonder your dog gets excited! But remember, you’re the one in control (right?). Gently guide your dog to a safe area or cross the street to be proactive about avoiding these situations.

Get Your Dog's Attention

Dogs can easily lose themselves in the excitement of the walk, especially a long one. Set them up for success by reminding them that you’re with them every step of the way. A few easy ways to do this are to use a short leash—keep ‘em right at your side!—and to feed them commands along the way. Not only does it return their focus to you, but it’s just good practice. 

Set Up Sniff-Worthy Habits

Let’s get real, dogs looooove a good sniff. That’s cool. But teach them that there’s a time and a place for it. This may take several walks for them to understand. For example, don’t allow them to stop at every yard and take 10 minutes to poke around. Instead, pick a destination like the park and give them time to explore there. Soon, they’ll see the pattern of your walks and appreciate the routine.
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