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Walking your dog is a routine you do everyday. Grabbing a leash, collar, harness, and poop bags to make sure your dog pees and poops is your many prayers. Getting your supplies ready may be the easy part of your walk if each time you go out unexpected stressful things happen. The reactions and actions you do may not be helping.
Do you think there are other ways to respond to situations that can make your walk go better with your dog? Sometimes our responses or lack of them as dog owners can make us think this is the only way to make things better.
Do you think there are other ways that can make your walk go better with your dog? I want to share five mistakes you may unknowingly be making on walks and how to stop making them. Once you recognize what is occurring on your walks then some change to make them better can happen. You and your dog deserve a great walk together.
Not paying attention on walks
We live in a society where technology is everywhere and our cell phone can keep us updated on everything and everyone. However, if you focus on talking, texting, or taking pictures on a walk, then you are missing out on enjoying your dog, spotting danger (safety), and leaving your dog to make all the decisions (ones you may not like) on his/her own. If you are going to bring your cellphone then I suggest wearing a cellphone clip like this one as well as an ear piece like this (I have both, and they make things so much easier for me).
If there is a phone call you have to take or make, choose a location where you can do it quickly and not be too distracted. Finally, you could set the timer on your cell phone and then look at it when it goes off. I think trying to limit your cell phone usage with your dog is going to help you both and give the right attention your dog deserves.
Not having treats or toys to make the walks positive
Just opening the front door to go on a walk with a leash on your dog and poop bags may help with your dog going the bathroom, but making it a positive experience is completely different. Walks can be so unpredictable with other people, dogs, and noises/objects you may encounter that not bringing a favorite toy or a couple different high value treats will set you and your dog up for failure.
The scary and unknown can become a positive experience by giving a treat (a treasure hunt I like to call them ) if you are dropping them on the ground for your dog to find, or in addition to getting their attention on you. Have rewards ready to give when necessary so your dog will never know when they are coming but will be excited to earn one.
Keep the treats in a treat bag and/or toys in a basket near the front door so it will take less time to grab them and easy to start making that change today. Kibble can be used in addition if your dog is on a special diet, or maybe gets a little to excited with the treats.
Treats To Try:
I like these two treats above because they are easy to break up into small pieces for all the different sizes dogs or puppies I work with.
These two rolls are great because you can cut them up into small pieces and use them as treats and keep the roll in the refrigerator.
I would recommend using Ziplok Bags with the rolls to keep on you for walks. Something to put your Ziplok Bag filled with treats is a treat bag. I like the ones that clip around your waste as they feel more secure to me. Two treat bags I use and like are Doggone Good and PetSafe Treat Pouch.
Holding the leash too tightly
You are walking down the street with your dog and everything is going well until you spot another dog owner with their dog. Your first response is to start winding the leash around your hand and holding it using your other hand to grab the lower part tighter.
Your thinking is that you will be able to control your dog better if she wants to say hello or tries to lunge at them. It may sound weird to hear that you’re doing the opposite. Grabbing the leash tighter is letting your dog think that something is wrong and it must be that other person and their dog, for example.
Going from holding the leash loosely to tightening makes you think you are not saying anything but you are, in a nonverbal way. The point of going on a walk is to stay consistent and for you to learn.
As I mentioned above, in addition to having a favorite toy or treats, deciding to cross the street rather than going near a dog and owner, will help you to not feel the need to grab the leash tighter. We want to maintain the same demeanor and keep it positive.
Do not let your fear of past experiences or what has worked in the past (tightening the leash) make you overreact or be on guard as that will not help your dog or you.
Repeating your Dog’s name or Saying No
It can seem like a natural thing to start saying your dogs name many times or the word no if your dog is not paying attention to you or going for something on a walk. We want your dog to know his or her name but repeating it multiple times means nothing to them.
No is another word that has little meaning either for a dog. You as a dog owner think that if these things work or have worked in your life then they could work with your dog too. Moreover, on walks we get frustrated and we think raising our voices saying our dog’s name or the word no will help since you are out of options and your dog is still doing the behavior you do not want to see.
This is where dog training is important to help you and your dog have a better way to communicate. Learning different nonverbal as well as verbal cues with your dog gives you an advantage rather than doing this repetition I mentioned above.
Moreover, you can start looking for a dog trainer today as well as stop using the word no or your dog’s name on your next walk which could be happening today. Simple but a quick win for you and less confusion for your dog.
Thinking your dog should say hello to everyone
All dogs are adorable and it seems natural enough to let your dog say hello to a neighbor, friend, or stranger, as well as other dogs while out on a walk. However, your dog really does not need to say hello to everyone. If your dog pulls you to say hello or cannot stay focused on you then there is no need to set yourself up for failure.
Rather, you could tell people that you are training your dog and appreciate that they asked to approach you and that maybe next time would be better. Letting people know that your dog has to stay in a down position or sit before they can say hello will make them think the next time they want to approach another dog.
Simply crossing the street as well takes the opportunity away for a person or your dog to think he/she has a chance to interact. Finally, mixing up who your dog can say hello to and focusing on working together will help your dog to keep moving along while out on a walk. Remember, your goal is to have a great, safe, and fun walk with your dog.
If you need a list of supplies to have for your walk then grab my Dog Walk Supplies Checklist. Let me know if you have a question or found this post useful by commenting below.
Related Post: How to Choose and use Treats in Training Your Dog
Are you prepared for your next dog walk?
- Checklist of the supplies you need for your walk with examples of each
- High value and low value dog treat examples