The Biggest Mistakes You Might Be Making on Walks
(And changes you can make right now to fix it)
One of the most popular issues owners come to me with is that their dog walks them, not the other way around. They're getting pulled everywhere, tripped constantly, and can't get their dog's attention when they need it.
Now- this post isn't going to teach you a proper heel (you'll need lessons for that!). But it will teach you some things you can change immediately to get a better quality walk- for both of you.
Ditch the 4 or 6 footer - Is your leash four or six feet? Swap it out for a 10 or 15 foot long leash (note, not a Flexi or retractable leash). Pulling is often a result of boundary frustration- meaning, when they hit the end of the leash, it just makes them frustrated and pull more. I could write a whole essay on this one, but in short, let your dog actually explore. Give a long leash a try! For safety purposes, be sure you're ready to reel your pup back in if you see another dog or person.
Take treats - No, not those Milkbones in the pantry (in fact, throw those out). Break out a high value jerky style treat like Full Moon or Ziwi, or just go straight for the cheese in the fridge. Be mindful to reward for neutral or good behavior when it's offered, and start before you even walk out the front door. Bonus points if you start before you even put the leash on.
Bubble up to your dog - This will be different for every dog. Some dogs like to be talked to in big, high pitched voices, and other dogs like to be talked to in soft, gentle tones. Talk to your dog! Every single time they look at you, bubble up to them and give snacks.
Put your phone away - Seriously. Put it away. If you're not paying attention to your dog, why would your dog pay attention to you?
Change up your route! Go somewhere new, go find a new trail. The same old walk (or three) every day is incredibly boring. Seriously, find a new spot at least once a month.
For you, this might be a break in your day, but for your dog, this is their highlight. Learn to have fun on walks with your dog. Be open to engaging with them, finding enjoyment with them, being playful with them (which is different from playing with them).