Troubled Walks

Did you know? Loose Lead Walking is one of the hardest exercises dog owners face!

With many dog owners working full barking-1819740_1920time, running households errands and juggling various activities, finding time to walk their dog can be limited. The more hectic our lifestyle becomes, the more frustrated or upset we become when tasks do not run smoothly, like taking your dog for a walk.

As we continue to work at our constant demands in life, walking your dog on a loose lead seems near impossible.

If you are experiencing your dog dragging you, lunging at other dogs, bunny hopping, fish spins and/or zigzagging across the footpath on walks, then you might need to reconsider if taking these walks are worthwhile to you and your dog? The answer is likely to be no for both.

How does this affect you and your dog?

When you and your dog both experience frustration or stress, this causes both of your bodies to release adrenaline and cortisone hormones, resulting in an increase in your heart and respiratory rates, suppressed immune system and can increase your feelings of being overwhelmed on your walks.

How to enjoy your walks

Plan ahead

  • Map out walks and note areas that your dog is likely to be in reactive. I.e. loose dogs, people, cats etc.
  • Avoid your dog repeating the unwanted behaviour (practice makes perfect – no matter if the behaviour is wanted or unwanted)
  • Set your walks up for success. Understand what triggers your dog and avoid those triggers until you seek help from a Dog Behavioural Trainer to help you modify your dog’s behaviour.

Equipment

Switch the collar for a front-attach harness:

This applies comfortable pressure at the front of your dog (chest) and reorient them back to you, making it difficult to pull. This will also help to stop your dog pulling.

Ditch retractable leads

This type of lead does not provide any security at all (many puppies and dogs have chewed right through them in two bites!) and are a hazard when wrapped around you and/or your dog.

Carry reinforcers with you

We all should be past the fear of carrying reinforcers with us on walks now, especially treats. It has been scientifically proven that if you reinforce your dog for wanted behaviours, especially through difficult set ups, then the behaviours you want will occur more often, decreasing the unwanted behaviours performed.

If carrying roast chicken or smelly cheese is the price to pay for an attentive and responsive dog on your walks, then you are winning!

Use what your dog already knows

It’s likely that you have already taught your dog to sit, lay down, stay and focus/watch you. Start utilising these basic exercises to build more control of your dog on walks.

With the use of high reinforcers, practice these exercises in your backyard. Once your dog is performing these exercises with ease, then start transitioning to the front yard, your street and eventually the block.

During this time, do not let your dog practice the unwanted, stressful behaviours by taking them on walks (unless they are comfortable). Do your training sessions (up to 10 minutes at a time) in the home, then provide fun games to help with physical and mental exercise, such as scent detection, flirt pole, hide and seek, fetch, frisbee etc.

Additional exercises to teach 

  • Learn to be a tree, silky leash or walk down the lead (Restrain from jerking/pulling back on your dog)
  • Do not move forward if leash is tight
  • Build a relationship with focus training at home, take it and practice in fun places, play and motivate
  • Cue walking
  • Recalls
  • Change direction cues
  • Dog walks beside you on left and on the right
  • Dog walks on loose lead in front and behind you

 

If you require further assistance on your walks with your dog, contact our experienced and professional dog behavioural trainer, Christine on 0409 636 117 or email info@pantingpaws.com.au

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