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Strategizing your dog walks

Walking Your Dog Strategy

Do you walk your dog daily? Should you even bother with training while walking your dog? Is there a strategy to heading out on dog walks?

I will be completely honest with you. EVERY walk is a training walk! Dogs are learning every second, every minute, every hour of the day. Your dog will absolutely learn something on your daily walk(s). Why not determine what that will be? Besides, you and your dog will both enjoy walks much more this way.

Loose leash dog walking
Loose Leash Walking with Ripley in Westford, MA

Preparing for your Dog Walk

Decide the following:

  1. What you you plan to do if another dog crosses your path?

    Will you cross the street? Will you ask your pooch for a polite “sit”? Will you permit your dog to politely meet the other dog?
  2. What will you do when you when you meet people?

    Will you cross the street? Will you ask your dog for a polite “sit” for the person to say hello? Will you play a “look at that” game while the person walks by and give your dog a treat for being calm?

3. How will you handling interesting stuff on the ground like pizza crusts and trash or squirrels and chipmunks?

Will you work on “leave it”? Will you use a “let’s go” to continue on? A “look at that” for the wildlife?

4. How will you handle frightening things like children on skateboards and scooters and loud noises?

Will you create distance from the scary things? Will you have your dog give YOU attention while you move quickly past the scary things?

Dog giving paw
Dale deomonstrates a polite greeting with “paw”

There is no right or wrong with these. My dog, Kota, was “dog reactive”. We always had a plan when we headed out. I taught Kota a “go back”. When we would see another dog I’d say, “Go Back” and together we would do a 180 degree turn and go in the opposite direction. I also did a lot of “look” with her to grab her attention. “Hand Targets” are great for moving your dog around and having them focus on something fun.

  • Here is a post I did on teaching your dog a Hand Target. Hand targeting was my favorite behavior to teach when I taught classes. It’s an easy one for dog’s to learn, and it’s like a game for them. Who doesn’t love a game?

Choose a walking route with just the right amount of challenge for your dog

If your dog is shy or newer to training, choose a quieter route with less people, dogs and other distractions. Be sure to walk at quieter times of the day. I would walk Kota for years at 9:30 AM and then around 2:00 PM in the afternoon – while the kids were in school and morning dog walks were complete, and afternoon walks weren’t yet happening with others.

Bring tasty treats

Rewarding your dog throughout your excursion is key! We want them to be happy and successful. Bring your pup’s favorite treats. If you know there are going to be more distractions on your walk, up the ante with some high value goods, like leftover steak or burger from your previous night’s dinner.

A treat pouch is great to fill up before each walk. One of my favorite is the Doggone Good Clicker Company Rapid Rewards pouch – of course in my favorite color, pink!

dog walking on the dock

After the Walk

1. What did your dog do well?

2. What needs more practice?

3. Would you do anything differently the next time?

  • Training Tip: Choose a cue that your dog is best at (watch, leave it, let’s go, ect.) to get the best results in challenging and distracting environments.

Walking your dog should be FUN! Our dogs look to us for direction. That want to learn. Having a plan makes walking with your dog much more enjoyable. Try it next time! Happy walking!!!

Around the Circle

This post is part of a pet photographers blog circle. Follow along by clicking at the end of each post. Next up Fiona Lovett from Happy Tales Photography in Andorra and Spain takes a walk in the park on a recent commissioned shoot in the UK. Hope you enjoy!!!





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