If your dogs are like ours, they love nothing more than a walk outside with their favorite person: you. Getting out and about with your dog on regular walks is a great way to bond, spend time together, and get in some much-needed exercise.
However, if not equipped with the correct tools, tricks, and information, a calm, relaxing walk can quickly turn into a stressful mess. Dogs that pull, get easily distracted, or seem determined to sniff every blade of grass within a 10-mile radius can make a walk seem impossible. Luckily, there are easy ways to train your dog to behave appropriately on a walk. Follow the five tips below, and before you know it, your little (or big) buddy will be a world-class on-leash walker.
Don’t Pull On The Leash
This may seem counterintuitive, but when your dog gets away from you, the last thing you want to do is pull on their leash. Dogs have a natural opposition reflex, which means as soon as they feel a tug on the leash, they’ll pull in the other direction, resulting in a futile tug of war.
Instead, consider training your dog to walk with a loose leash. One way to do this is by stopping and walking in another direction every time your dog gets ahead of you. Every time your furry friend turns and catches up with you, be sure to reward them with lots of praise, and some of their favorite treats.
Allow Time To Sniff And Explore
A dog’s sense of smell is about 10,000 times stronger than ours! This means that, to dogs, the outdoors is an explosion of scents coming from every direction, offering them information about their surroundings. For this reason, it’s important to allow them to sniff and explore on walks.
Additionally, try not to rush your dog during bathroom breaks. Dog urine is sort of a calling card among canines. (We know, we know. Gross. But true!) By sniffing another dog’s urine, your pet can tell the gender, age, and general health of that dog. In return, they’ll often urinate right on top of another dog’s scent. This is sort of like dog graffiti telling the world, “I was here!”
Pay Attention To Positioning
Rather than allowing your dog to walk far ahead of you, try to keep them by your side. This is especially important in crowded or city areas. Having your dog walking right next you allows you to control their behavior, pay attention to them, and keep them safe. As always, treat them regularly for good behavior!
Whenever possible, try to anticipate upcoming distractions before your dog has a chance to. For example, if you see a wild animal, like a bird or cat, or even people or a leashed dog approaching, train your dog to sit and look at you until the distraction has passed. When they do this correctly, be sure to treat them. If there is a stationary distraction, position yourself between the dog and the distraction, so they’re less tempted to check it out.
Greet Others Appropriately
Depending on your dog’s temperament, they may love (or hate) meeting other dogs and people along your travels. Always make sure to follow proper greeting etiquette. This means always asking before allowing your dog to approach another animal or human. Even if your dog is gentle and friendly, others might not be, so this is an important safety measure.
Always keep your dog on leash during meetings. Train your dog to sit or lay down and allow the other animal to approach and sniff them. Then allow your dog to calmly engage. If your dog isn’t social, or isn’t yet trained to interact calmly with others, that’s okay! Simply alert approaching dog owners that your dog isn’t ready to socialize or cross the street and allow the other party to pass.
With these five tips and tricks, walking your dog should become a cherished activity that you and your dog can enjoy together. Enjoy the fresh air and bonding time with your best bud!
If you found this interesting, check out these related stories:
Everything You Need To Know About Urine Marking
Keeping Your Pet Hydrated