Did you know that you can break your wrist easily on a dog walk? When I was having a training session with Rodrigo and our trainer, Shannon Finch, she noticed that I would wrap the leash around my hand and wrist. She told me that if Rodrigo saw a rabbit and lunged, he would take my wrist or hand with me.
Not only could I end up with a broken wrist, I could potentially lose my hand if I do a sufficient enough job wrapping the leash around, which I can do. Shannon suggested that I either…
- change his harness so that I felt more in control and didn’t feel the need to wrap the leash or
- switch from a 6′ leash to a 4′ leash to eliminate the need to wrap the leash around my wrist.
Dog Walking Tips, continued…
Walking our dogs is such a fantastic time to bond, get some exercise and fresh air, and revisit dog training lessons. But do you ever get overwhelmed with all of these expectations? With three dogs, it took some time for me to learn how to juggle leashes, dog poop bags, training trips, and pay attention to our dogs and surroundings.
So I reached out to the dog training community for dog walking tips that will make our walks more pleasant, organized, and fruitful…
Be prepared and treat for good behavior
Matt Tuzzo, Owner and Head Trainer of Jersey Shore Dogs shared the following…
Carry food and pay for good behaviors including, but not limited to: walking calmly at your side, responding to a “leave-it” cue, “checking in” (dog stops scanning the environment and comes over and “checks in” with the owner (looks up at the owner). By paying for these behaviors when you get them, you will increase the chances of your dog responding and performing them more often and reliably in the future. Use a higher value food than you normally would use to train in the home. The outdoors offers a tremendous number of distractions that could easily trump a lower value treat.
Danette Johnston of Dog’s Day Out in Seattle (woo hoooo, a local gal!) reminds us to treat our dog walks as a training session, not just a way to get exercise for our pooch (and us). When we walk our dogs, we have treats in our pocket and work on practicing the following…
- Leave It
What I love about combining training with walks is that it’s a fantastic use of the time and our dogs are even more exhausted when we get home, because they got to exercise their brain too.
You can also get started with practicing loose leash walking in the house. Joan Hunter Mayer of Inquisitive Canine, suggest that before we head out, practice inside where there are limited distractions. “To help keep your dog by your side and to help keep focused on you, play the “Find it!” game – Say “find it!” and toss a treat on the ground in the place you want them to be, in the direction you want them to walk.”
Invest in a no pull (connects in front) harness
No more collars?
We stopped using dog collars with our pups after I spent nearly $100 one summer replacing collars only to end up watching our puppies take turns pulling off each other’s collars. We’re a harness family. What I didn’t expect was to read the opinion that walking with a collar can be dangerous and lead to…
- Spinal injuries
- Increased aggression
- Neck and tracheal injuries (especially in dogs who pull)
Becky Blanton of BookyBiz who is a former police officer and worked with K-9 officers was clear in her passion against the practice of leading a dog by the collar.
Marsha T Wallace, MD of IN GOOD HANDS went on to share that “Much of a dog’s sense of where there body is in space come from receptors in the neck. Constant stress can lead to areas of stored up tension that can throw off a dog’s physical and emotional balance. Make sure harnesses are properly fitted. So many I see are not. Make sure your dog cannot pull backwards and slip out of harness or collar.
Karen Tolin of Muddy Paw Sled Dog Kennel shares that harnesses are also great for dogs who slip their dog collars. Our littermates were like small, four legged Houdinis when it came to their dog collars. Switching to harnesses helped us keep our walks under control.
Jennifer Bement of Southeastern Guide Dogs covers dog walking training in a course called Dog Walking 101. You read more tips shared in Dog Walking 101.
“If you are approaching another dog, keep your dog close to you – this will help avoid impinging on that dog’s space and if the dogs do greet each other, it will keep you from getting tangled up in leashes
If you have the go-ahead from the other handler to let your dogs meet, let the dogs sniff each other (their version of shaking hands) as opposed to face-to-face meetings – those can add tension to the meeting.”
Teach your dog to walk on your left and right
Suzanne Harb Mackay, Owner of Doggie Land/Sunny Dog Place advises us to teach our dogs to walk on our left and right to help us easily navigate through dog traffic.
Did you know? ~ a little trivia from Suzanne Harb Mackay
Did you know that in the reason we walk our dogs on the left is because people who were right handed carried swords and guns and wanted their dog on their left to keep their gun/sword hand free.
And when walking your dog, if your dog slows to sniff around, just keep on walking. By slowing down or stopping, your giving your dog permission, which may not be what you want on days when you want to maintain a brisk, even pace.
What if you’re walking a big dog?
We have you covered! Amy Robinson of Drool School shared the following tip:
“I position the dog at my left side, then place the leash behind me, at the small of my back. I anchor it with my right hand at my right hip. My left hand is now free to hold a treat or two to keep the dog’s interest. When the dog pulls forward, he doesn’t get any of that push-pull feedback, since he is pulling against a part of my body that won’t give. I stop frequently and ask the dog to Sit, and then dole out a goodie.”
Now it’s YOUR turn. What dog walking tips do you have?