Mastering the Perfect Dog Walk
If it goes well, your walk can be the best part of the day for you and your dog. Your walk can be an adventure for the senses. A healthy boost to body and spirit as you glide along in sync like Romanian dance partners. If not, it can feel more like a middle school band performance, where no one is really sure if the woodwinds and horns are playing the same song. But a dislocated shoulder and high blood pressure don’t have to be the highlight of your morning walk. Use these key steps to master the perfect dog walk and make it something you’ll both look forward to.
Establish Yourself as Pack Leader During the Walk
At work you may answer the phone and make coffee, but remember that at home you’re the pack leader. A daily walk is the perfect time to reinforce this by teaching your dog to heel. Use appropriate corrections with a short lead, and collar placed high on the neck to keep your dog beside you during the entire walk. Letting him jerk you along like a shady mechanic every time a squirrel runs by, or he sees another dog, sends the wrong message that he’s the pack leader. Let him think that, and next thing you know, you’ll be sleeping in a fetal position on the floor while he’s lies under the comforter, reading the latest Harry Potter book.
Reward Your Dog During and After the Walk
Positive reinforcement is the lay-up of dog training; the core fundamental and undisputed mantra of creating desired behavior in your dog. Treats are the perfect way to reward your dog when she heels like a K-9 on border patrol, and walks are a great time to practice and reward other essential commands like ‘sit’ and ‘down’. You might want to stop and ogle the new Land Rover in your neighbor’s driveway, and it’s okay for him to stop and investigate the fence post too. Just remember to keep these stops brief, and remain in control. It’s a walk, after all, and by controlling the timing and length of stops, you’ll remind him that you’re the pack leader, not just a two legged ball and chain cramping his style.
Keep the Walk Interesting!
The walk is a great opportunity for your dog to experience the world through his senses, and changing up the route keeps it interesting for both of you. Remember when you had to take an alternate route to work, and discovered that hidden gem that serves the best enchiladas in town? Or when your girlfriend got bored of watching Netflix on the couch every night and left you for that skydive instructor? Who knows what interesting new things you’ll find when you chart a new course on your daily walk. Make it even more fun and head for a destination like a dog park or friend’s house, or gather a group of friends, and walk together as a pack.
Clean Up After Your Pet
Toting a sagging bag of dog poo around the neighborhood is slightly less glamorous than plunging a stopped up toilet, but it’s even less cool to walk away from a steaming pile on your neighbor’s lawn. Recycled plastic grocery bags are a great way to clean up after your dog, and create goodwill wherever your dog walk adventures takes you.