Getting used to walking a dog can be an intimidating process, especially if it’s your first time taking your pet out on a consistent basis. Whether they are 9 pounds or 90, you still need to be in control of your dog and responsible for their safety, your safety, and the safety of those around you.
Thankfully, there are many different practices and techniques you can use while learning to become a dog walker that will make you a pro in no time. A little bit of education, building a few good habits, and learning to watch your dog’s behavior can go a long way.
Best Practices for Any Dog Walker
Learning to walk a dog is a process. They have a natural way of doing things and it’s our job to promote good habits while training them to not follow their more aggressive instincts. Thankfully, practice makes perfect and walking your dog provides lots of opportunity for practice. The next time you take them for a walk, try and keep a few of these tips in mind:
- Walk to the Side or in Front Your Dog – It’s important to keep your dog from assuming the role of “Leader of the Pack”. When your dog pushes ahead and pulls their leash with tension, they are assuming that role of control for the walk. Instead, you want your pet to walk next to you or behind you. This puts you in that position of leader. A good rule when you take your dog out on a walk is that you should be the one leaving the house first, and when you bring your dog back you should be the one opening the door and going back in first.
- Use A Short Leash – Many people use retractable leashes to allow their dog greater freedom and mobility, but we do not recommend that you start with this type of leash. A short leash gives you much better control over your dog and any situation you find yourself in. If you’re able to equip a harness as well, it is always best to connect your leash around their neck or chest area, as this creates a strong form of correction for your dog.
- Reward Your Dog During the Walk – An obedient dog is one that deserves a reward. When you’re walking your dog and they are behaving themselves, allowing them a few moments of freedom to sniff and move around freely can create positive reinforcement. Consistently rewarding your dog is a great way to make this behavior ongoing.
- Be A Responsible Dog Walker – You are not only responsible for controlling your dog while walking them, you’re also responsible for cleaning up after them. Don’t forget poop bags, as most pets will take advantage of a walk and relieve themselves. Being a good dog walker means being conscious of your neighbors and those who live around you.
- Meet Your Dog’s Walking Needs – Take your dog on the walk that they need, not the walk that you want. Dogs need exercise, and will also get a lot of mental stimulation from going on a walk. If your dog needs more exercise, planning a longer neighborhood loop is a good idea. Likewise, if your pet does not require quite as much exercise, don’t try to take them on a marathon.
Overall, taking your dog on a walk is about responsibility and control. You dictate the pace, the purpose, and the proper behavior when you have them out on a leash. You’re taking them on a walk, not the other way around. By following the advice above, and learning your dog’s own unique behaviors, you’ll become comfortable walking your furry friend in no time.