Your Guide to a Stress-Free Dog Walk
Why your dog is pulling, anxious, aggressive, or uncontrollable, and how to fix it.
When it comes to all things in life, everything starts with routine. Most humans eat at the same time, workout a certain way, and follow a step by step routine to get started for the day. Why would our pups be any different? I know what you’re thinking - when it comes to walking your dog it can feel like anything but a routine. Maybe your dog exhibits unpredictable behavior, tugging and pulling you all over the place depending on the day. Perhaps you have an anxious or confused dog, or one that gets uncomfortable following your lead. And of course, some pets just seem to always get a bad case of the zoomies when outdoors. We all have a lot of questions, such as how often do you walk a dog? How do you walk a big dog? And what’s the proper way to train a dog to walk? We’ve compiled a step by step dog walking guide that gives you the best dog walking tips and tricks to handle dogs of any size and temperament. Let’s go!
Step 1: Choose a consistent time of day
Consistency can make all the difference in training your dog to understand and get familiar with the idea of daily walks! Vets typically recommend that you walk your furry friend, on average, 3 to 4 times a day. Your dog may need to play before a walk to burn off some energy, especially if you are about to begin leash training. Many pet owners opt for walks in the morning before work, or in the evening after work when the weather is mild. If you have trouble staying on-schedule, try an alarm with a specific noise that your dog will get familiar with! Before long, you’ll see them pop up and get ready to go as soon as the alarm goes off. Ensuring you're the first one out the door (and making your dog sit and stay while you open it) creates the pre-walk boundary that can set you up for success. Keep your techniques consistent by doing them EVERY time the dog goes outside.
Step 2: Get the right leash
Believe it or not, it's really important to analyze the leash itself. When it comes to dog items, your leash, collar, and harness need to be high quality and reliable. Otherwise, you could have problems that range from a sore arm and grumpy pup, to losing your dog to pulling or a leash snap mid-walk. Many pup parents rely on a common leash that has been troublesome over the years, and that’s the retractable leash. The constant low-level pressure applied with the retractable dog leash means that it actively encourages your dog to ignore leash pressure. If you have a dog that doesn't recall or pulls on walks, you shouldn't be using a retractable leash. You need dog equipment that truly stands the test of time, with quality you can count on. Experts recommend a 6 foot leash for neighborhood dog walking. A 6 foot leash allows your dog to have room to sniff and explore, without leaving so much slack that the leash drags on the ground or gets tangled around your dog's legs. A great option is a nylon leash that is attached to an industrial strength spring clasp for quick release and closure. With metal clasps, you won’t deal with plastic breaking.
Step 3: Invest in the proper collar and harness
Just like leashes, collars and harnesses are something you don’t want to purchase lightly! Harnesses are a popular choice for walking dogs because they don't put pressure on your dog’s neck, but collars are generally more comfortable and provide more control over your dog. It’s a good idea to have both if you favour a harness, so you can be sure to attach an ID tag needed. If you have a dog with trachea issues, a harness is mandatory. A great quality harness offers complete comfort for you and your dog. You need to look for a product that provides a structurally-solid, yet lightweight option for hiking, running, and recreational activities that offer breathability without compromising strength. And for daily wear and walking, make sure your collar is lightweight, comfortable and helps your dog be identified. Prong collars are a great solution to assist in heel training, but are very often misused. We recommend speaking with a trainer on how to properly use a prong collar before doing so! Every prong collar should be anchored to a flat collar as a backup (in case a prong slips or gets loose.) If a prong collar is a bit too big of jump for you to try, you can opt for a martingale collar. It gives a mild correction by tightening at the top of the neck, and is still just as comfortable as a flat collar without giving them the opportunity to slip out of the collar by backing up away from you.
Step 4: Get your dog comfortable
Now that you have the tools on your side, it’s time to get your dog on board and familiar! Getting your pup to associate their gear with a positive experience can be rewarding for you both! Let your dog sniff their leash and collar to get used to it. You can give your dog a treat once they start responding to the leash and harness, and when you place it on! Step 5: Gather your walk survival kit Having a bag or backpack that is dedicated to dog walks can be an awesome addition to your tool kit! Here’s some items you can include inside:
● Poop Bags
● A dog water bottle
● A clicker (if your dog is trained with one)
Step 6: Win your walk
Once you have chosen your time of day and tools, pick a consistent distraction-free place to walk your dog. Now it’s time to incorporate some leash manners!
1. Place your leash and collar on your dog indoors. Begin walking!
2. Now freeze! While walking, stop and remain still. When your dog understands they cannot go any further because you have stopped, they should stop as well.
3. Reward! When your pup stops for you, give praise and a treat!
4. Now continue walking, and as you go pick a phrase like “stop” anytime your dog pulls. Once you feel the leash tighten, freeze in place and wait for your dog to respond and stop. Reward when they stop!
5. Start with short walks, and work your way up as performance improves! Your dog should begin to associate the word “stop” (or whatever word you want to use) with following your lead without pulling, and overtime shouldn’t need the command at all. There you have it! Win your walks with a routine both you and your dog love. Try it out for yourself!