The Walk

Many owners don’t realize the importance of “the walk”.  Often I will here that their dog gets enough exercise playing in the yard, or that they just don’t have time.  Yet these are the same owners that have come to me with various behavior problems their dogs are displaying.

While the walk, yes, for both dog and owner is great exercise, the walk is about your relationship with your dog.  This is something that you are doing together.  It is about building focus and attention, and teaching your dog to walk with you.  I have written about the loose leash walk, and how to accomplish this in a previous blog, so I will just bring up the main points again

First, work on getting your dog’s attention by saying their name or making some sort of gesture or noise for the dog to look at you.  Once they do, mark the behavior and give them a treat.  Secondly, have your dog on their leash and start walking backwards encouraging the dog to walk with you.  Click or mark the behavior and treat.  Do not skip the walking back step, as that is what makes the dog understand they are walking with you.  In their minds when they are pulling out front on that leash, they think you are the slacker and the one holding them back from this awesome thing called the walk.  Remember our goal is to do this together!  Lastly, turn and begin to walk forward.  If your dog starts to pull, go back to step one, get the attention, step two, walk backwards, step three, turn and walk forward.  You must do this every time the dog pulls so that they get the picture of what your goal is.

It is an awesome feeling when the dog actually gets it and realizes you both are walking together.  I started this with my puppy Bernard.  While just as you know with any dog, some days are harder than others, when the light bulb went on it was great!  I now can actually just drop the leash and we walk.  If he gets caught up in sniffing something, I will just keep walking.  Sometimes, I say nothing and he runs back up to walk besides me, other times I will just call his name, or I ask for the behavior, “close” which he knows to mean walk right next to me.  I do keep the leash on him when doing this, as with any dog just learning new things, a life reward such as a squirrel or Bernard likes birds could send him chasing one.   Remember safety when working on your walk.  If you are not in an area where you can work freely, it is worth a short drive to a neighborhood where you can work.  It is also best to work without distractions when teaching the dog to walk.  Often the smells of the area are the biggest distractions, but facing other people, kids or dogs is sometimes way to hard to handle.

Please try not to forget the walk, even if it is just to the end of your driveway.  This is an event your dog will look forward to, once the routine is established.

If you need help with teaching your dog to walk properly call Kim Paciotti at 704-877-7821 or email  Visit our website or on Facebook

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