Walking your dog is as essential to his well-being as food and water. If you neglect to mentally and physically exercise him, you may end up with a couch potato with behavioral problems. Pent-up energy and boredom can quickly take their toll. Although it might seem effortless, walking a dog requires skills. When done correctly, your dog learns good manners and that you're in charge.
Teaching good walking habits ideally starts during puppyhood. Have your puppy friend wear a collar indoors. Once he's used to it, attach a leash and allow him to drag it through the house while you supervise him. This gets him comfortable with wearing his walking gear and can prevent resistance when it's time to go outside. If your pupster jumps and gets overly excited when it's time for his walk, nip his behavior in the bud. Tell him to "sit" and wait for him to calm down before taking him outside. With consistency, this teaches him that you're the boss and that getting overexcited isn't effective.
Using a short leash allows you to control your dog's movement during walks and can keep him from exploring unexpected dangers, such as snakes and spiders. Ensure your dog's collar is attached high up on his neck. Alternatively, work with a head halter to easily steer him in the desired direction. Lead your dog and avoid allowing him to walk in front of you -- have him walk at your side or behind you. This sends him the message that you're his superior -- you're the pack leader.
Obedience training can teach your dog good manners, including leash-walking etiquette and a good recall for off-leash playtime. Bring your dog to obedience classes or try correcting undesired behavior yourself. If your dog pulls on the leash, a quick tug might get him to stop. You can also walk in the other direction or stop walking completely. When your dog notices that he can't move further, he'll stop pulling and let you lead him. Arm yourself with plenty of treats to reinforce good behavior.
Whether you walk your dog before breakfast or after lunch or dinner, creating a set schedule can make this part of your daily routine. Your pet companion gets used to the schedule and starts looking forward to his walks. He might even remind you that it's time to go outside by pacing at the front door. A walk can be anything from a quick stroll to the mailbox to a long park visit. To keep the walks interesting, visit different areas so your dog can smell and explore new surroundings. Schedule doggie play dates with friends, so your dog can meet and play with other dogs while improving his social skills.
- Seize the Leash: The Importance of Walking Your Dog
- Mercola.com: Healthy Pets: Walking Your Dog: How to Do It Well and Why It's So Important
- Cesar's Way: Dog Training: 6 Tips for Mastering the Dog Walk
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Dog Walking 101
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Teaching Your Dog Not to Pull on a Leash
- Pup Parenting; Lynn Lott, et al.
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