Although it might seem effortless, walking a dog requires quite a few skills. When done correctly, your dog not only gets his exercise, but he gets a lesson in overall good behavior.
Prepare Before Walking
Teaching good walking habits ideally starts during puppyhood. Have your puppy friend wear a collar indoors. Once he's used to it, attach a leash and allow him to drag it through the house while you supervise him. This gets him comfortable with wearing his walking gear and can prevent resistance when it's time to go outside. If your pupster jumps and gets overly excited when it's time for his walk, nip his behavior in the bud. Tell him to "sit" and wait for him to calm down before taking him outside. With consistency, this teaches him that you're the boss and that getting overexcited isn't effective.
Take Control of Your Dog
Using a short leash allows you to control your dog's movement during walks and can keep him from exploring unexpected dangers, such as snakes and spiders. Ensure your dog's collar is attached high up on his neck. If you have a particularly uncontrollable dog who insists on trying to drag you around the neighborhood, consider working with a head halter which will help you easily steer him in the desired direction.
Teach Proper Manners
Obedience training can teach your dog good manners, including leash-walking etiquette and a good recall for off-leash playtime. Bring your dog to obedience classes or try correcting undesired behavior yourself. If your dog pulls on the leash, a quick tug might get him to stop. You can also walk in the other direction or stop walking completely. When your dog notices that he can't move further, he'll stop pulling and let you lead him. Arm yourself with plenty of treats to reinforce good behavior.
When and Where to Walk Your Dog
Whether you walk your dog before breakfast or after lunch or dinner, creating a set schedule can make this part of your daily routine. Your pet companion gets used to the schedule and starts looking forward to his walks. He might even remind you that it's time to go outside by pacing at the front door. A walk can be anything from a quick stroll to the mailbox to a long park visit. To keep the walks interesting, visit different areas so your dog can smell and explore new surroundings. Also, try not to skip walking if you can help it! If you neglect to mentally and physically exercise him, you may end up with a couch potato with behavioral problems and destructive tendencies. This pent-up energy and boredom can quickly it's toll on his health, and maybe even your house!
By Kimberly Caines
Seize the Leash: The Importance of Walking Your Dog
Mercola.com: Healthy Pets: Walking Your Dog: How to Do It Well and Why It's So Important
Cesar's Way: Dog Training: 6 Tips for Mastering the Dog Walk
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Dog Walking 101
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Teaching Your Dog Not to Pull on a Leash
Pup Parenting; Lynn Lott, et al.
About the Author
Kimberly Caines is a well traveled model, writer and licensed physical fitness trainer who was first published in 1997. Her work has appeared in the Dutch newspaper "De Overschiese Krant" and on various websites. Caines holds a degree in journalism from Mercurius College in Holland and is writing her first novel.