Are you having trouble when walking your dog? Is your dog difficult to control, running ahead of you and pulling on the leash? Or maybe he barks at anything that moves or wants to greet and jump up on strangers you meet. Or perhaps you have a new dog and you want to get their exercise routine off to a good start.
Whatever your (or their) issue is, you can get it under control. We have some tips for walking your dog to make it a calmer more relaxed outing for you both.
Equipment Required for Training a Dog to Walk
If you are just getting started with your dog walking training you will need a few things to make it easier for you and your dog. Here is some equipment to get that will come in handy for your walk.
What you need:
- A short dog leash for training your dog. If you don’t have a short leash (or already have a longer one) you can wrap it a few times around your hand to keep it short. Or you may like to try a harness for better control, like the Kurgo Tru-Fit Dog Walking Harness. You can also use a retractable one like this dog walking leash, but this is only recommended if your dog is trained in loose leash walking already.
- A supply of disposable bags for collecting your dog’s poop will come in handy. While not glamorous, it is important to pick up after your dog. As well as making you a good citizen and a responsible neighbor, it also prevents a potential health hazard. These Arm & Hammer Disposable Waste Bags along with a dispenser that clips onto your dog’s leash are a great way to go.
- Carry some water and food if you are going on longer walks.
- If it is cold outside you might need to put a winter jacket on your dog.
Dog Walking Tips
Now onto the actual walk. We have some tips and advice for you on how to get the best behavior out of your dog when you take him for a walk.
- Make your dog come to you. Start out with you being in charge. Call your dog to you, get him to sit, put on the leash, and lead them out the door. If your dog is excited and jumping around stand still until he calms down and sits still. Reward him with praise or a treat before heading out the door.
- Walk in front of your dog. This starts while you are still inside the house. You should be leading your dog, not the other way around. Make sure you are in the lead as you head out the door.
- Choose a side to walk on. It doesn’t matter whether you walk on the left or right side of your dog, but consistency is important.
- Start in your yard or driveway until your dog gets used to the leash and walking beside you. When they are walking calmly beside you, praise them and head out of your yard. If they start to stray or get ahead, stop until they return to your side and calm down. Then give them praise and continue on your walk.
- Remember, it’s your dog’s walk, so give them some time to stop and sniff around a bit. It is good mental stimulation for your dog and keeps things interesting for them. You can then encourage them to continue the walk with a “let’s go”.
- Make sure to walk at a pace that fits your dog. For smaller dogs with short legs (and puppies), you may need to slow down a bit so they don’t have to work too hard to keep up with you. Dogs with longer legs will be able to go faster. Always adjust your pace to match your dog’s ability and fitness level.
- Encourage your dog with praise when they are good. Training your dog involves giving a lot of praise for good behavior. It lets them know they are doing the right thing. Praise can include treats, or just a “good dog” and a hug. Your dog will know this is good and continue with the right behavior.
- Correct bad behavior immediately so your dog knows he did something wrong. Stop walking and get your dog to sit. Once they are calm you can continue on your walk.
- Patience is important when training your dog. For some dogs, it may take a few outings before they are walking calmly beside you. Doing the same thing over and over again may be boring or frustrating for you but your dog will eventually get it. Be patient and stick with it.
The Most Common Issue When Walking a Dog
The most common issue when walking a dog is leash pulling. If your dog is a leash puller you can find some great advice and a quick video to watch in our article on How to Stop Your Dog Pulling on the Leash. You can learn how to lead your dog and how to keep them calm with some expert training.
How Long Should You Walk Your Dog For?
One common question people have when it comes to exercise for your dog is “how long should I walk my dog?” If you are just starting out with a puppy or have a smaller dog, then start with shorter walks of 10 to 15 minutes at a time. With adult and larger dogs, 30 minutes is a good amount of time to start with. Keep an eye on your dog and how they are responding and reacting to the exercise. If they still have a lot of energy after the walk you can increase the time tomorrow, or add in a second walk later in the day. If your dog seems too exhausted after the walk you should reduce the time. You will eventually find the right balance for your dog. For more on how much exercise is good for dogs, see our article on the Best Ways to Exercise Your Dog.
Keep things interesting for you and your dog by changing your walking environment regularly so things don’t get boring.
For more information on how to get your dog to walk calmly by your side, see these articles:
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