Thursday, April 18, 2013

3 Ways to Walk the Dog Instead of Letting the Dog Walk You

Walking Ruger has become quite the family project around here.  He loves leaving the house & smelling the world around him.  It's good exercise for him and for his humans.

During obedience training we talk a lot about walking a dog on a loose leash.  I can tell you from experience, it's so much nicer to walk that way than to be dragged down the street by your dog!

As most of the country begins to see signs of Spring I thought I'd give you a few tips
that work for us.  For more tips, see this post with tips from my friend Heather.

1. Find the right tool.

There are many different types of collars & harnesses that you can use.  Ask for help at the pet supply store and try them out.  I know that my favorite pet store has a 30-day return policy.  We tried one harness with Ruger for a week.  He did not do well.  He would lay in the driveway and refuse to move.  So, I returned it and tried a different one.  The 2nd try was a complete success.

We  now use the Easy Walk harness. Katie calls it "the magic harness."

On our second walk with this harness Ruger had completely stopped
trying to pull us down the street.

He's wearing his harness in this picture:

2. Teach a Few Commands

Even if you're not interested in formal obedience training like we are, you'll be happier if your dog learns a few simple commands. (or maybe you like yelling and jerking on the leash, I don't know)

Here's our list of most important walk-related commands:

"Let's Go!
We ask Ruger to sit at the edge of our garage. When it's time to leave the property we give him the "Let's Go!" and we're off together.  He does not try to jerk us into the road.

"Hurry Up!"
Means what it says.  Even if you don't ever run with your dog like I do, there might be a time when you need to hurry up.  Practice moving a little faster and say "Hurry Up".  Then when you're ready to slow down again, say...

Teach your dog this one by slowing down to a snail's pace while keeping him/her at your side.

They can quickly learn these commands and understand that they need to stay with you no matter your pace.  This command also helps when you are letting people with little legs walk the dog.

Lastly, I think it's important to teach the command

Once your dog knows this one, he doesn't have to get clotheslined every time you stop to say
hi to a neighbor.  I stamp the foot closest to the dog & yell, "Stop!".
When Ruger stops & looks at me he gets a treat.

Which brings me to my last point...

3. Bring Treats on Walks

At this point, most of my jackets have treats in the pockets.

(There used to be pacifiers in all my coats. Life changes.)

 Be prepared to reward good behavior when your dog is displaying it.
Ruger knows that when he stays beside me treats appear.  So, he stays beside me.

Treats are also helpful when your dog gets distracted.

 If they get all excited when a bunny runs across the street (or maybe that's just beagles) you have a chance of getting their attention back if you've got delicious treats ready.

Do you have walking tips to add?

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