Many people with larger dogs get walked daily by their pooches. Those who don’t know the secrets to happy dog walking. Their dogs are the delight of pet sitters because of their great manners.
Ideally, start off on the right paw with proper dog training so your dog strives to please you in all things and listens when you say “no” to any unwanted behavior. Training the dog to sit, stay, come and drop objects (and more!) should be part of every dog’s basic upbringing. Professional dog training may help you if you’re not sure how to train a dog. Many of these professionals offer dog walking services as well that they undertake with a van to transport dogs to improve the dogs comfort, keeping them receptive to new ideas.
If you can’t run with your dog, give your dog some running time by playing fetch in your yard before a walk. That helps release some of his pent-up energy. It may also help to enlist a dog sitter to stop by and play with your dog so he won’t sleep all day while you’re at work.
As for walking your dog, don’t use a long, retractable leash. They give rambunctious dogs too much lead. Instead, use a shorter one that keeps your dog by your side. Select a collar that fits right.
Very stubborn, hard-to-train dogs may benefit from using a leash attached to a training collar. It exerts pressure when the dog attempts to flee, but releases the pressure when he’s by your side. The collar should not be so big as to easily fall off. When put on properly, the collar should attach to the leash on the top of the neck.
Only use a training collar for dog training if he does not respond to positive reinforcement and verbal commands while walking. Some dogs possess a very high prey drive, making training harder.
Do NOT use this collar as his daily collar, but only for walks. Only use a special collar for training if you are absolutely sure you know how to both fit it and use it. Don’t use the collars with prongs on the inside. These can hurt your dog’s neck.
If you use a training collar on walks, keep his normal collar on, too. In case he gets away from you, you’ll want his identification, registration and rabies tags on him. Many municipalities require proof of rabies and registration at all times.
Dog harnesses actually encourage pulling behavior in larger dogs. He’s the sled dog and you’re the sled. He can pull to his heart’s content because the harness enables him to do so. (Of course, small dogs may need a harness for safety; however, they’re not capable of pulling their walkers.)
Once you have your dog gear and you’re ready to walk, keep the dog on one side of you at all times, not in front and not behind. Try to keep steady tension on the leash. Hold the loop in the hand opposite of the dog’s side, and wrap the leash around the same-side hand a couple times. Allow the extra slack to fall between your hands, not between your hands and the dog.
Continuously talk to your dog to keep his attention on you. Chatter about anything in particular in a positive tone. As your dog starts to dart off, say, “heel!” in a firm voice to remind him of where he needs to be. And if you use a training collar, use it according to the manufacturer directions. Again, if you’re not sure how to use it right, don’t use it.
As with any dog training, consistency is key to achieving the results you want. Make sure your dog sitter knows of your training efforts so she can become your partner in dog training.
If you still struggle with walking your dog, ask a professional dog trainer to work with you and your pooch for further help.
by Deborah Jeanne Sergeant