This week’s post discusses some leash walking tips to make those walks with your dog a little more enjoyable. When you’re out for a walk with your pup, who’s walking who? Are you being the strong, confident pack leader that your dog needs? Or are you allowing your dog to control the walk, constantly pulling and lunging while on the leash? If it is the latter, then I have a few tips for you.
When out on a walk with your dog, this is a very exciting thing for her especially if it is at the end of the day when you have arrived home from work. It will be hard for her to contain all that energy and excitement. First of all, to help her stay focused, even in her energetic state, be interesting enough so that she will stay focused on you. If your energy is low and you are showing a lack of interest, your dog will pick up on this and would rather focus on something a little more interesting or exciting than you. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, walk with purpose and be confident.
A lot of the communication between you and your dog is done through the leash. Keep the leash loose. Too much tension in the leash may indicate to your dog that something is wrong, or that you are lacking confidence. Make unpredictable movements such as sudden stops and starts, and change in direction so that your dog has to pay attention and stay focused on you because she doesn’t know what your next move will be.
Does your dog have to stop every five feet to sniff or pee? What kind of a leash are you using? If you are using a retractable leash, this could be the problem. I find that retractable leashes give your dog too much freedom and too much control on the walk. Since a lot of communication is done through the leash, retractable leashes make it difficult for you to communicate with, guide, and correct your dog.
When walking your dog you want to teach your dog to follow you. For this reason, you should be walking in front of your dog, or she should be beside you. Remember, you are the pack leader and you want your dog to follow you. If your dog is way out front, then she is the pack leader.
A good 6 feet leash is perfect enough to give your dog some room to roam and the right length to give you control. It is o.k. to let your dog stop and sniff, but it should not be for the entire walk. Teach your dog that part of the walk will be dedicated to walking, and part of the walk will be dedicated to sniffing and exploring.
When you return home, continue to be the pack leader. You should be the first one walking through the door. Continue to lead by having your dog wait patiently while you put away her leash or take off your shoes. Then, reward your dog with a meal, a treat, a toy or some extra play time. These are the small things that add up to create the much needed structure that dogs need, and it helps your dog to see you as the leader of the pack.