In addition to January being National Train Your Dog Month, it is also Walk Your Dog Month! We have some tips to help make walks with your canine companion more enjoyable.
One of the best ways to enjoy walks with your dog is to have them trained to walk properly on a leash. Loose leash walking is a skill that takes patience, consistency, and only 10 minutes of training a day to accomplish! Having the proper tools and training plan are instrumental in helping you succeed with your dogs leash walking goals.
One question we are frequently asked by clients is what type of equipment should we use when walking our dog? We recommend using a nylon or leather 4 – 6ft leash, front clip harness, flat buckle or martingale collar. It is important to make sure your harness and collar are well fitting before going on a walk. We also recommend using a treat bag that buckles around or clips onto your waist. Don’t forget to bring poop bags on your walk!
When working with your dog on loose leash walking, we recommend starting to practice in a low distraction environment, such as the backyard or a long hallway in your house. The goal of walking politely on a leash is to have a “j” shape with slack in the leash and your dog on your side even with your hip. To achieve this skill, we recommend practicing in short, frequent sessions. Choose the side that you want your dog to walk on and reward them with high value treats every 1-3 steps for walking by your side. It is best to deliver your reward even with your hip or knee, depending on the height of your dog’s head. Your dog will learn that it pays to stay by your side. Once your dog can walk politely by your side inside your house or backyard, slowly increase the level of distractions. We recommend practicing having your dog walk up and down the driveway by your side before going for a longer walk. Once they achieve that goal, slowly add in distance to your walks. Be sure to also allow dog to sniff after walking by your side for a few feet, sniffing can be a great reward and also provides mental enrichment.
Another question we are frequently asked is how often should I walk my dog? Ideally, in a perfect world we recommend daily walks. However, we understand life or the weather sometimes gets the best of us. If you are not used to walking your dog daily, the best way to start the habit is by having a realistic goal for walking. We often recommend that clients begin with walking their dog at least 3 days a week for 10 -15 minutes a day. Slowly over time gradually increase the distance and amount of waks you take.
We know that with a little patience and dedication you are sure to achieve your loose leash walking goals with your dog. Walking your dog will provide a great outlet for physical exercise and mental stimulation. Don’t forget, daily walks are also beneficial for us as pet owners! Adding in walks will not only improve your dog’s life, but yours as well. Now get on those walking shoes and get to practicing!