Walking your dog is great exercise for both of you, and can help keep the pounds off. It will also help with mental and physical stimulation, beneficial for helping resolve other behavior problems. Many dog owners have issues when they try to walk their dog or they don’t walk them at all, because the dog misbehaves.
Here are some do’s and don’ts so you and your dog can have a leisurely stroll:
- When getting ready to go on a walk, call the dog to you; do not go to the dog to put his lead/collar on. If you’re walking a puppy, make sure he gets familiar with the lead before you start using it to take him on a walk. Once the dog approaches you, have him sit quietly before putting on his lead or collar. Make sure you leave the door first and return through the door first. Remember, the Leader always leads!
- Before you set off on your walk with your dog, you need to have him focus on you, not everything else around you. Simply hold the lead by the handle. There should be six feet of loose lead between you and your dog. Start walking. As soon as he gets to you and begins to pull, give a slight tug on the lead and direct him back to you by changing direction.
- Along the walk, guide your dog to heel. Your dog should walk along side of you or at the back of you. Don’t let the dog decide when to heel because once again he would be establishing himself as the leader of the pack.
- Walk with your shoulders high and your head back, establishing yourself as a confident leader.
- Walk your dog daily or make sure he gets some type of exercise. An unexercised dog can become hyper and exhibit destructive behaviors (chewing, digging, etc.) from being bored. Remember that dogs are walkers/travelers by instinct.
- Watch out for poisonous plants or animals and avoid anything that can be problematic for your dog.
- Make sure your dog has the proper identification in case he runs away.
- Let the dog walk in front of you. It gives him the impression that he is in charge and is leading you.
- Let him drag you on a lead or walk you versus you walk him.
- Let your dog mark all over the place just for the sake of marking. Cue in to whether or not he needs to relieve himself.
- Use a retractable lead. They make it harder for you to control the dog, and can be dangerous.
- Let your dog off his lead unless you’re in an off-lead dog area. Even then, you need to be careful because other dogs can be unpredictable.
- Go to the same place every day…mix it up! Your dog will like the variety and the new sights and smells.
What To Bring On a Walk:
Don’t leave your house empty handed! Be respectful of your neighbors and their property. Always bring:
- Water for your dog, particularly if it’s warm outside or you are jogging.
- Bags for when your dog relieves himself (recycle your grocery bags).
Vicki and Richard Horowitz, of Woodbridge, are dog behavioral therapists and trainers with Bark Busters, one of the world’s largest dog training companies. For more information, call 1-877-500-BARK (2275) or visit www.dog-training-new-haven-ct.com.