Dog Walker talks dog walking
When you walk dogs 365 days a year, you learn a lot about, well, dog walking. Things that work and things that don’t. Some of this post is based off personal preference, working with dog trainers, and learning from our many clients each day. Each owner will have to find out what works best for them at the end of the day. If dog walking is a struggle in any way, read this post and see what you can use from it to help make it something both you and your dog(s) enjoy.
Let me start off with a personal story. When I was in college, I got my first dog. The internet was not as robrst with information as it is now, I lived alone, and everything I learned was from being in tune with what my dog needed and what worked. I had a boy puppy that I traveled one Saturday afternoon to get from an ad in the local paper. I was not prepared for this tiny little guys dominant personality. I quickly realized my dog was much more well behaved when I came home to walk him in the middle of the day. Oh how I could’ve used a dog walker back then! What I know now makes complete sense why my dog was so much better after his mid-day walk even at a mere 9 pounds.
Dogs are pack animals. Before we domesticated them to become mans best friend, they would travel each day in their pack to hunt for food. This is part of who they are. No matter the size. The exercise, stimulation, smells, and experience alone makes for a better pup.
General Dog Walking Tips
1. Always LEAD– You are the leader. The sooner your dogs get that, the easier everything becomes, including their walks. I never walk out the door with a dog that is pulling. Walt until they are calm, preferably sitting and I walk out first, always! During the walk I always lead as well. Keep dog by your side, use a short leash to help do this and stop if your dog tries to walk ahead. I will reward dog for healing and sitting then we continue the walk.
We do not suggest retractable leashes for dog walking. I am the first to admit these were the very first leashes I ever bought. They worked on my small dog but we have seen them not work for many other dogs. They make it very hard to work on pulling, do not give you the control you need, and can be very dangerous with a reactive pup. If you make any change after reading this, to purchase a $7 nylon shorter leash at your local store next time you are out. Your dog probably enjoys the freedom of the retractable leash but your kids probably like the freedom of no seatbelt too right? It’s a safety issue. It will make a big difference. Plus with multiple dogs, they can get tangled easily.
Invest in a harness– if you are dealing with issues of pulling and do not yet have a harness- go get one! We have so many favorites that I can name. Each have their own benefits. Many clip on the top around the pups back to give you control. I personally find with some larger dogs I walk, ones that clip on the front (a few have two clips to give you the choice) work great with pulling. They can’t get ahead of you and even the strongest dogs are easier to control when you lead from the front. Certain harnesses are made to clip on and lead from the front. The gentle leader is a popular one among clients. The Halti is another option. Here are some of my personal favorites-
Here are some more basic tips that help us each day and hopefully help you as well!
- Practice inside first
- Calm dogs-rewarded
- Praise and talk during walk
- Stop when your dog pulls
- End goal is to walk with some slack in the leash. If the leash is tight and there is no slack, this means stress to a dog. You want slack in leash so reward when this happens
- Bring high motivation treats- carry a fanny pack like this one to give your dog treats when he/she is calm, not pulling or to redirect when they see something they want to react to
- Balance the walk with smells and walk time-smelling is mental stimulation for your pup. But the smelling and stopping needs to be controlled by you. If they are doing it every 2ft then you won’t get the exercise benefit. I try to make a goal for each dog to walk a certain distance, if they do well then we stop for smells and potty. Repeat process. The goal of the walk is to get both physical and mental stimulation
- Patience– it won’t happen overnight. Be consistent and keep at it. It will pay off in the end
- Reward your dog after the walk. Walking before mealtime is a good option. A good walk followed by a meal means the dog worked (walked) for their food.
We discuss tips for the summer in another blog. Dog walking will change depending on the weather. The Pet GurL is committed to safety at all times. Read more about Summer Safety Tips