Monday, October 18, 2010

More Than Just Walking the Dog

          I was out and about the neighborhood yesterday, and I noticed a lot of people walking their dogs. That was great to see. However I did notice most of those people out walking their dogs were not really walking their dogs, more to the point, their dogs were walking them. I saw three people with in one block of each other being dragged along by their dogs. This is not a good thing. There is a right way and a wrong way to walk your dog, and letting your dog take YOU out for a walk is definitely the wrong way. When your dog is out in front, pulling you along, that is the same as saying to the dog, you are in charge I will follow your lead. It can upset the whole chain of command. Yes dogs follow a chain of command. Whether you realize it or not doesn't matter to the dog, the dog knows there is a chain of command and it will follow it. When you allow your dog to lead during a walk you are putting the dog in a leadership role. This is something that should never happen. You are the one that is in charge, and if you are not there will be many problems down the line.

          When you are walking your dog you should be in the lead, and your dog should be following you. If your dog tries to pull out in front of you, stop them and make sure they know your the one leading. I usually accomplish this by stepping in front of the dog with one leg and I do not let the dog pass, I do not stop walking either, I simply make sure the dog is just behind me or by my side. If the dog is persistent in trying to pull ahead of me, I stop walking and turn my back to the dog. When the dog settles down, I will begin to walk again, and if the dog again tries to pass me I block the dog with my leg again, and say a command such as heal, or back, until the dog understands that this is where its place is, and eventually I can stop stepping in front of the dog and just say "back" and the dog will slow down and get behind me. Depending on the dog this could take anywhere from three days to a week walking your dog two to three times a day. There are some other things you can do to help the process along, such as keeping the leash short so you can better control where your dog is able to go, and that makes stepping in front of the dog an easier task. Once the dog is walking at your pace, you should give the lead some slack, this is not to say you can allow your dog to walk in front of you, but the leash should be slack and the dog should stay by your side. Once you accomplish this, walking your dog will be so much more enjoyable. Your dog will walk at your pace, the lead will be so loose it will feel like your dog is walking without the lead at all, and that is the goal. You should be walking your dog not the other way around.

          I have know people who let their dogs lead while walking and almost always it leads to other issues. Once a dog is in control it will try to keep control the only way a dog knows how. This can cause your dog to nip at people or even at you, your dog will not do the things you want it to and instead it will do what it wants to do when it wants to do it, after all that is what the top dog does. Once a dog starts to growl and nip, it is a short road to a full fledged bite. Can all this come from letting your dog walk you? I say yes it can. Once you give up control in one area, the dog will begin to seek control in other areas. Feeding time may become dangerous for example. All of this does not happen over night, but a little at a time, and before to long it becomes a serious problem. If you are starting to see signs that your dog is doing what it wants and not what you want it to, it may be time to take your dog for a walk, and let it know who is in charge. Once you have control in this area, you will be surprised at how quickly your dog will start to comply in other areas.

          A lot of people think they can get a dog and it will be a simple task to keep it, as if it were a stuffed animal. Dogs need time and attention, if you can not give both you may want to think about another pet choice. If you have the time and you are willing to guide and teach your dog as it grows, you will be rewarded with a calm, loyal, friend who will do anything for you. So remember, walk your dog, do not let it walk you. If you do this, it will go a long way to keeping your furry family members healthy and happy.

Thanks for reading.

Nick C

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