Follow The Leader, A quick lesson in dog walking.

Welcome to Daisy’s rescue, Today our topic is dog walking. We see a lot of people trying to walk their dogs, and sometimes we wonder who is walking whom. Denise Lynn is one of our guest writers and she will discuss how to easily walk your dog.

FOLLOW THE LEADER

When it comes to your dog the old cliché that a “good dog is a tired dog” may indeed be an old statement but is still unanimously true. Sadly, few pet owners show any real ability to walk their dogs correctly these days. This is especially disappointing because it is such a key component to excellent overall pet behavior. Let’s face it, we all dread walking past the owners who are out on the sidewalk with their arms at full extension, shoulder rolled forward and total lack of control over their animal. Being faced with a bad mannered or overly exuberant dog is never something anyone looks forward to. And this is precisely the reason I find myself biting my tongue and uttering a simple polite greeting, as I cross to the other side of the street, allowing chaos to continue on its way without me. This behavior is easily corrected however, and this essay can tell you the right techniques to curb your dog on a walk and avoid the need for a chiropractor afterwards. With the right equipment, posture, and consistency anyone can learn to correctly walk their dog.

“Exercise for your dog is every bit as important as it is for you” (Huntington). Let’s start by getting the right equipment for your particular breed. Whether you’re the owner of a large or small dog the use of a properly fitted collar, leash, or harness for your breed size is all you need to make your walks comfortable and enjoyable for both of you. A dog’s collar should be soft, flexible and worn at all times providing two fingers width of room underneath it for the dog’s ease of movement. The correct collar should also include contact information for the owner in case of unintended separation at the dog park. If you are a small dog owner a harness will be your next purchase. Harnesses hold the dog by the chest region and distribute tension removing the danger of larynx collapse if either of you pull the leash too hard. Leashes should be of the correct sturdiness for your individual dog’s size. A small dog needs a light leash with a longer length were as, a big dog needs something stronger and shorter after all he is taller.

Many people use the wrong equipment which can immediately doom your walk to failure. Using a choke chain or pronged collar is common practice to some people to give correction for bad behavior but, this will only illicit a negative response from your dog while also making him fear you. Painful choking is still just that, painful! Now ask yourself, why your dog would view walking as something they want to do if it’s constantly a pain in their neck? Likewise, a large heavy leash that isn’t absolutely necessary to secure him becomes an uncomfortable addition for any dog. These are just a few examples of how to make walks not only unpleasant and disagreeable for your pet, and also in some cases agonizing.

When it comes to walking your dog, a positive attitude and good body posture will take you far. Remember to exude an affirmative demeanor whenever you walk out the front door together. Keep your head held high and your shoulders back throughout your walk. Assign your pet his place at your side by shortening the leash, thus allowing him just enough room to walk confidently beside you. Then slacken the leash to a soft, relaxed tension and remember to be the leader whenever you walk. When you assert a leadership posture your dog will automatically follow. This also helps him recognize that he must always follow you and not the other way around. Continuously be the first to step into or out of any doorway and Spike will quickly come to understand the proper chain of command both on the walk and inside your household.

Let’s flash back to the vision we had earlier of the dog dragging the owner down the street by his lead. Not only will you need a chiropractor after not exuding the leadership role, you may also need Band-Aid’s. By permitting your dog to lead he will assume he is the boss and will take over the role whole heartedly, dragging you threw bushes or across busy streets. If you allow him the full length of leash he will use it to his advantage and to hang you both with it. Let’s face it, “Pulling on the leash and dragging the dog does not work. It only chokes the dog and prompts it to pull harder to get away from the choking” (Houck). So always start out on the right foot to avoid these obvious pitfalls.

The best tool at your command when walking your dog is the use of positive reinforcement for all good behaviors he exhibits. This simply put means to catch your dog doing the good behaviors and praise him for it. Said with a smile in your voice, praise alone will bring many happy returns. For example, if when you’re out walking, you happen upon another owner and their dog and Spike stays his course beside you without hesitation, make sure he knows he was a good dog, “Good boy!” In contrast, “A lot of people think hitting and yelling at a dog is training….But hitting and yelling is abuse and immediately removes the trust between a dog and its owner. Aggression begets aggression” (Houck). All of which will only serve to make your dog fearful and anxious. The ultimate goal of dog walking is a pup that is tired and relaxed so that you can both take a nap on the sofa together.

It’s also very important to always remain consistent with the rules, be sure to adhere to them each and every time you walk together. If you do, your dog will know exactly what is expected of him and perform better overall. Continuously respond to any negative behavior quickly, lead him back on track, and then praise him for a job well done. Vacillating back and forth with only the occasional correction will only confuse your pup and lead him to making bad behavior choices. This will facilitate the need for a lot more negative corrections when the goal is to accentuate the positive at every opportunity.

Nobody wants an over excited, wound up companion that chews furniture and knocks them over upon their arrival home. The addition of a regular walk, using the right equipment, and correct body posture, as well as, consistent reinforcement will result in a well-trained and relaxed dog. You both will be getting great exercise and increasing the bond between you. Good boy, Spike!

By Denise Lynn

Works Cited

Huntington, Ann. “Tips on how to Help Dog Get Exercise.” Toronto Star Dec 05 1991: F.6. OxResearch; ProQuest Central; ProQuest Health Management. 31 Mar. 2012.

Houck, Jeff. “Stay! Sit! Read! and Learn how to Train Your Dog.” Palm Beach Post Jan 18 1999: 1.D. OxResearch; ProQuest Central; ProQuest Health Management. 31 Mar. 2012.

2 Replies to “Follow The Leader, A quick lesson in dog walking.”

  1. I agree Denise, great article and very informative. I’ve been having some issues with Blue – he’s very leash-aggressive and I haven’t found a good way to keep him from straining, barking, and growling at anyone we see on our walks. Any suggestions? Thanks!

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