The daily walk is an important part of responsible pack leadership — but for many, it’s also the most stressful. Mastering the walk will not only make this part of your daily routine enjoyable, but also go a long way towards addressing other problem behaviours as well, because it can help your dog to see you as the ‘Pack Leader’. Here are some tips on how to master the dog walk.
1. Be the leader
Walk your dog, do not let your dog walk you. If you allow your dog to walk in front of you while on a lead you are reinforcing in the dog’s mind that the dog is alpha over you because the leader always goes first. Walking in front of your dog allows you to be seen as the pack leader. You should be the first one out the door and the first one in. Your dog should be beside or behind you during the walk.
2. Be confident
Dogs need a dominant leader who is strong-minded and calm. Dogs instinctually crave this leadership and guidance. Unstable humans make unstable dogs. A human who lacks confidence will not have a dog who listens to their commands.
3. Try a short leash
Short leashes allows you to have more control. Attaching the leash to the very top of the neck can help you more easily communicate, guide, and correct your dog. Always keep your dog’s safety in mind when giving corrections.
Set aside thirty minutes to a full hour for walks as a guide. The specific needs of each dog differ depending on their breed, health conditions and weight, and age. Consult your vet and keep an eye on your dog’s behaviour to see if his needs are being met.
5. Reward behaviour during the walk
After your dog has maintained the proper state of mind, reward him by allowing him to explore the sidewalk and sniff around. Then you need to decide when reward time is over. It should always be less than the time spent focused on the walk.
6. Reward your dog when you get home
By providing a meal after the walk, you have allowed your dog to “work” for the food.
(Images: ‘Raja’ the Golden Retriever)