How is your dog walk going? Is it a painful pulling experience or a relaxed enjoyable time? Maybe it’s somewhere in between.
Now is the perfect time to put some work into your walking technique with your dog.
The start of a calm relaxed walk actually begins well before you leave the house.
Does the appearance of the lead or the word ‘walk’ have your dog leaping for joy, yapping at you to get you moving?
First question to ask yourself: What is my energy like when it’s time for a walk. Am I excitedly saying ‘Walk time’ and watching while Rover does back flips?
Your dog is very sensitive to your energy at all times. More sensitive than you realise.
A dog hyped up before leaving the house can hardly be expected to wander peacefully next to you once outside, with all the terrific smells and adventure waiting.
So the best way to start is to calm your own energy and quietly get the lead out ready for the walk. No words are needed, Rover knows exactly what that lead means.
Secondly – when putting the leash on your expectation should be for him to be calm, if he’s jumping on you, barking at you or biting the lead, the most simple thing to do is place the lead back on the table, stand up and ignore Rover until his energy backs right off again.
This is called postponing the walk. He may be confused by this (since you haven’t done this before) but rest assured he will be trying to figure out how to get his walk back on the agenda.
So what does he do now, is he bugging you or jumping or barking demanding to be taken out – if he’s being silly and you’re starting to frown, simply take him and put him in time-out just for a couple of minutes.
Let him out of time-out and wait a couple more minutes before picking up the lead to try again. Throughout this time it is most effective if you do NOT use any words. Let your actions show your dog how he needs to be in order to go for a walk.
Very calmly place the lead on, use a ‘stop hand’ if his energy starts to climb. You may need to remove the lead and/or use timeout several times depending on the energy of your dog.
Once the lead is on, just stand quietly until his energy matches yours – calm and quiet.
Thirdly, walk around your kitchen a few times before heading for the door. You are showing that this is Your Walk, not His Walk. As you head for the door, if his energy starts to climb then turn away and stand still until his energy matches yours.
Once calmly at the door, open the door and again stand calm and still – this is a choke point in many homes, where your dog is busting to get out into the world.
We want to desensitise this area from being seen as the gate to freedom. Desensitise by walking out the door a couple of metres and then turning and walking back into the house – do this a few times each walk for the next week and you will feel a difference to your walk.
Fourthly, if at all possible build some off-leash time into the early part of your walk. Off-leash is the reward for calm cruisey walking to the exercise spot.
Once at the off-leash area, this is the perfect time to change your own energy: get excited, unclip him and be upbeat – “Yahoo, time to run!” If you can achieve this off-leash time early on in your walk, it will really help to satisfy your dog’s need to run and should make the rest of your walk even easier.
After all, most dogs love the joy of racing around and we want that enjoyment for them, it’s just important to keep all that excited energy for the appropriate location and not start it too soon.
Try it, this really does work and makes time outside with your pal so much more enjoyable.
If you’ve tried these suggestions and are still finding it challenging, there are likely some leadership issues with your dog that need addressing first. I have many more practical suggestions that we can tailor-make to fit your particular situation. Give me a shout to book the service option that will best fit your situation.
There is also a new online meeting service that allows us to discuss all your specific issues no matter where you live and come up with a complete set of solutions and techniques just for you. Just go to Services and request The BOM (The Baxter Online Meeting).