I was at a Home Dog Training client in Suwanee last week for our first lesson. Maya, his two year old Dutch Shepherd, was really a great dog. The main issues that he had called us out for were jumping, counter surfing, not listening, and running to the front door whenever the doorbell rang or people knocked. After several hours we had resolved all those issues and had created a lesson plan for him that would assure his continued success with these issues. He was really excited to continue to work with Maya so that she would remain a great member of their family. He mentioned that he would probably want us to come out again in a few weeks because, with all the success we had accomplished, he wanted to move onto Maya’s “outside issue”. She was not good at all when it came walking on the leash. He knew that this was too much to tackle on our first session, but was hopeful that we could solve that in a second meeting. He still had to walk Maya in the interim and, after understanding that most dog issues are caused by dog owners, was wondering what “stupid things” he should not be doing when walking her.
Many people believe that walking their dog is just throwing a collar and leash on him and then “away we go”. Spoiler alert; NO. As dog owners, our dogs need to look up to us as the ones that are keeping them safe and fulfilling their needs. Being the boss means we have responsibilities to meet and roles to follow.
When you walk your dog, he must feel safe and understand that, whatever happens, you are in charge and he will be fine. He must always give you focus so you can provide him the proper signals as to what to do. You must always be aware of the environment in order to send the appropriate signals. This is how you succeed and your dog feels safe and secure in your presence.
So, here are some of the stupid things so many dog owners do and how to easily fix them:
- Never Use Extension Leashes. I have mentioned this many times in the past. The extension leash only allows your dog to be away from you without providing you focus and you providing him direction. Use a regular six foot leash!
- Leashie, Leashie, Walkie, Walkie, Crazy, Crazy. If your dog goes nuts every time you get the leash in preparation for a walk, the walk will probably be terrible. Put the leash on your dog at odd times during the day while you are home. Just drop it on the ground and let him walk around with it. Don’t pay attention to it or your dog. Your dog will break his adrenalized association of “leash means walk”. He will no longer react to the leash in a crazy manner and you will have an easier time getting it on him and starting your walk.
- Don’t Allow Your Dog To Run Out The Front Door. The start of your walk is not the start of a race. If it were, we would call it a “race” and not a “walk”. Approach the front door and put your dog in a sit. Open the door and you should step to the other side. Once you are outside, allow your dog to come out and tell him to sit again. Once he is calm and sitting, you can start your walk.
- Your Dog Needs to Watch You. Have your dog on a slightly loose leash, walking by your side. In this position, you only have to give him about a foot of leash to allow it to be loose. He will also be positioned so that he can easily see you from his peripheral vision and you can easily watch his movements.
- Be The AWAC. You must always be scanning the neighborhood for things that might make your dog feel unsafe or spike his adrenaline. Squirrels, neighbors with their dogs, bicycles, large trucks, and gardeners with leaf blowers are a some things that just make dogs crazy and feel unsafe. Move your dog away from them and make sure he focuses on you while you are near these things. If things are just too insane, go in a different direction or make a large circle around them. You want to allow your dog to experience them from a distance or location where he will feel safe with it and with you. It is your job to make that happen.
- Sniffie, Potty, Play Time. Walking is more than just going around the block until you get back home. You and your dog bond during this time. Remember that you are in charge of your dog and his actions. Every once in a while, stop and have your dog sit. Give him a simple and unique command such as “Free” or “Go Potties” indicating that you are allowing him to engage in an action he wishes. Don’t forget, you are allowing him to do what he wants. You are still in charge. When the “free time” is over, command him back to you and put him in a sit. When you are ready, give him the command to walk and continue your trek.
- Hi, Is It OK to Pet Your Dog? If your dog is cute, other people will want to pet him. Again, you are in charge and must keep your dog safe.
- If the other person is overly animated, don’t let him hear your dog.
- If you get the “heebie jeebies” from the other person, no petting or approaching.
- If you see your dog back up or put his tail between his legs, he is afraid of the other person. No petting or approaching.
- If the person seems fine to you, you can invite your dog to approach him. If your dog doesn’t easily walk to him on a loose leash, it indicated that he is nervous. No petting.
- If your dog is OK with the person, tell the person put the back of his hand down low and allow your dog to smell his hand. If your dog remains calm, ask the person to slowly move his hand around your dog’s chest and slowly stroke the back of his neck.
- Never let the person move his hand directly over your dog’s face or lean over your dog.
- When you are done, have the person stand still and allow your dog to walk away in a direction he chooses.
- When You Get Home. When you get back home, you aren’t done yet. Put your dog sit at the front door. Open the door and step to the other side. Command your dog to come inside and sit. Close the door and release your dog from the sit.
You have now completed an appropriate walk. I thought you never knew there were so many things to do and to remember? It isn’t easy being the boss!
Please call Robin or myself at (770) 718-7704 if you are in need of any dog training help. We have a lot of good dog training advice at Best Dog Trainers Suwanne Georgia. Find all our phone numbers, text addresses and email contacts at Dog Training Help Center Suwanne Georgia.