I have heard the saying, and I believe it, “Dog owners live longer than other people.” I also believe a big reason for this is because if you are taking care of a dog, you are also taking care of yourself. Many times, it may feel like yet another responsibility on a too long list of things to do, but it is one of the best habits for both owner and dog to get out daily for a walk.
If taking your dog out for a walk is exhausting, and seems more effort than it is worth, set small goals. Just go around the block! Also, if your dog seems to walk you instead of you walking them – in other words, your dog pulls so hard that you question your ability to stay on your feet – I highly recommend tools that help your dog not pull so hard. Gentle Leaders or Haltis are some of the more effective tools available. There are also anti-pull harnesses or prong collars. I like the harnesses, but the prong collars are not my favorite. I would rather have a dog owner get a prong collar and actually get out and walk, than not get out at all though.
Training with walking is very important, and it takes patience and persistence on the owner’s part. Most dogs want to walk out in front of their owners to be, in their minds, “the leader”. Teaching them to walk nicely next to you, takes time because it is going against the dog’s instincts. First, keep the leash short. As a trainer, I really hate those retractable leashes. The purpose of the leash is to provide the owner with some control of his or her dog. Most people that I have seen using the retractable leashes have given their dog way too much leash, and the dog is not really under the owner’s control.
Keep the dog close to you! Giving the dog too much leash means they will use as much as you give them. Our natural reaction to a dog pulling on the leash is to pull back in the opposite direction. It is what is called an opposition reflex. Unfortunately, dogs also have an opposition reflex, and when we, as owners, pull on the leash; we are teaching our dogs to pull. Instead when your dog pulls on his or her leash, stop walking. For the first few walks you go on, you might only make it out to your mailbox because you are stopping every other step because of how much your dog is pulling. The dog will learn that if it pulls on the leash, it doesn’t get to walk.
The next thing to teach your dog, besides walking close to you is teaching it to stay next to or behind you. You can do this by using fences or other objects you are walking past to cut them off. If the dog tries to step in front of you, use your leg to cut them off. Step in front of your dog, close to the fence, so it has to stay behind you.
- Keep your dog close to you by keeping the leash short.
- Use an anti-pull device if necessary.
- Cut your dog off and teach him or her to stay next to or behind you.
- GET OUT THERE!! Walk daily, some dogs would do better with 2 times a day!
- Join Us for Our Thursday Dog Walks