How can we learn to walk with the dog? Enriching our connection is the key. Proper equipment can be helpful but is not the total answer. I prefer to use front clip harnesses to help teach dogs to walk with out pulling, as they are less aversive than head collars and prong collars. If I want to increase the connection with my dog on a walk, that needs to start even before we get out of the door. It is good to teach dogs the word “wait”. That means stop until you are given permission to move forward. If we let our excited dogs blast out the door then we are already disconnected from them. If they have to wait, for permission, they will be looking at us in connection. Once we are out the door we have to stop once again to close the door, and the dog connects with us again, asking to go forward. So if we slow down the start of our walks, to get connected, we will have a better walk with our dogs. I like to practice a few sits at the beginning or recalls if I am working on a longer leash. Waits and u-turns are useful also. Really “tune in the radio” before we set off on our hike. Make it fun and rewarding to connect with you by bringing a pocket full of yummy treats to reward your dog if he comes back to you to check in of his own accord or does a nice recall.
Happy walking with your dog!
Ayla Long on the DuPont State Forest, Fawn Lake Trail
Nan Long, CPDT-KA
Now And Zen Dog Training