Pulling, barking, peeing on every bush in sight—sound like your dog? If so, don’t fret. There is another way. A better way. A way to make you look good and keep your dog happy, healthy, and balanced. First off, envision yourself as the pack leader and start believing that you’re going to walk your dog—not the other way around. It is-possible. And it starts with three basic ideas:
1. Make your pooch sit before the walk. It’s all about starting with a calm, submissive dog—not an excited, bouncing, insane beast! No matter how long it takes, make your dog sit and follow you out the door. This sets the tone for the walk and lets your dog see that you are in charge from the beginning.
2. Don’t let the nose go before your toes. When humans allow dogs to lead on the leash, it lets them become the alpha dog, meaning they make the decisions about where to go, when to stop, and how to react in any situation. Heeling your dog sends a clear message that you’re the alpha dog. You make the decisions. Your dog should be right next to you, with slack on the leash, keeping your pace. Use the leash to correct any pulling (with a firm sideways tug), and relax the tension as soon as your dog is where he belongs.
3. Keep moving forward. Walking your dog is about exercising his mind as much as his body. Walks shouldn’t solely be for potty breaks and socialization—it’s about giving your dog a job, which helps sharpen his mind and release anxiety and mental energy. But that means you have to keep moving forward. Stopping every now and then is OK, but only on your terms. Moving forward (while heeling and using the leash to correct) can even help prevent barking and aggression, simply because your dog has to keep his feet moving—and that helps refocus his brain.
By Deanna Morono