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August 26, 2011 at 7:15 AMComments: 2 Faves: 0

Dog Trainer Tips - Walking Your Dog

By Victoria Swanson More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the Paws & Awws Blog Series

If you read my last blog, you will see it was all about a healthy weight loss program for our pets and you will remember I discussed the daily walk as being an important part of your dogs exercise program. Here, I'll discuss some of the most common reasons people say they don't like to walk their dogs - and how to overcome them!

The Most Common Complaints?

  • My dog pulls me!
  • My dog lunges at other people and dogs!
  • My dog tries to chase moving vehicles, bikes, scooters and skateboards!

These three scenarios change what can and should be enjoyable and turn it into something people not only do not look forward to, they avoid doing at all costs!

Yet, despite this my goal for all you dog owners remains the same: Take your dog for at least one 30-45 minutes walk every day AND to enjoy those walks with your little fur buddy!

Do you have one of those trouble-dog-walkers? There's still hope for you yet!

Walking Your Puppy (or untrained adult dog)

Collar and Leash Introduction: Start walk training immediately by getting your puppy used to wearing a collar and walking on a leash. Begin by just holding the leash in your hand without moving.

  • Basic Correcting Procedure: If your puppy pulls, just stay still. Do NOT "reel" your puppy back to you or say their name. Once your puppy looks to you, sits or comes back, reward your puppy with a small treat.

On Your Walk: The next step is the actual walk. Always give the command so your dog know what you want it to do. "Let's Go" means we are proceeding with our walk, take a step. If your puppy dashes out, stop, wait and repeat the basic correcting procedure above, except use the walk for the puppy's reward, not a treat during the actual walk training process.

  • Lunge Correcting Procedure: Change direction when your puppy pulls you. Your puppy will learn quickly that it is their job to follow YOU and maintain "slack" in their leash. Avoid lunging or chasing problems later on by introducing and familiarizing your puppy with what it is like to be around strangers, cats and other dogs early on.
  • "Wait" Training: Teach your puppy to stop at crosswalks/corners. Give command "Wait" or "Hold Up" and stop where you are. This is a great opportunity to reinforce your "Sit" command too.

Walking Your Adult Dog

For the Problem Walkers: If your adult dog pulls or lunges, follow the same walk training techniques I describe for a puppy above. In addition, I highly recommend using a "Gentle Leader Harness" or "Gentle Leader Head Collar." NEVER use a choke, prong, or martingale collar. These type of collars hurt the dog and teach them to fear both you and going for walks - not good.

If your dog lunges at other people or dogs aggressively, PLEASE seek a professional dog trainer in your area! Too often untrained dogs injure a person or another animal and have to be put down. A good pet trainer can help you work with your dog to get this behavior under control before something like that happens.

For the Good Walkers - Buying a Backpack: Once your dog understands the rules of the walk and is comfortable walking for the recommended 30 to 45 minutes, add a little extra challenge with a back pack for your dog to carry.

  • Basics: When buying a pack you want to look for one that is non-restrictive, waterproof, and has the bags placed over the dog's shoulders.The color and design is up to you and your needs. It is however a good idea to get a brightly colored pack versus a darker one. This way your dog is more visible to you and others around.
  • Sizing: Backpacks are based on the weight of the dog and should be bought accordingly. A dog should be able to carry a load that is between 20 and 30% of their weight without a problem. With some short training hikes you can get a better idea of your dog's abilities.
  • When fitting your dog for a backpack you will want all the straps tight enough so that you can fit only two fingers through it. If your pack is too tight or too loose it could start to irritate or even injure the dog.
  • You want to make sure the bags are carried over the shoulders and not across the back. Make sure your pack does not extend to far down the back. This could cause discomfort or injure the dog.
  • Purpose: A good way to start looking for a backpack is to decide on what types of trips you will be taking. If you anticipate heading out for some long weekend hiking trips, there are a few things you want to look for to make the hike easier on you and the dog.
  • One really nice feature to have is a pack with a separate harness and pack system. This will allow you can take the pack off while the harness is still attached - handy when you have to cross water or go through a tight spot you can undo the pack without having to let the dog run free!
  • For long hiking trips on anything rougher than fleet trails, you may want some padding for underneath the dogs pack. These padding's are usually fleece or fake wool. Long haired dogs may not need as much padding.
  • Packing the Dog Pack: When packing your dog's gear you will want to evenly distribute the weight on both sides of the dogs. It is uncomfortable for the dog to have a lopsided pack and can cause unwanted stress on the dog. Pack softer items on the side of the pack to act as extra padding. You will want the heavier items toward the dogs shoulder and lighter items in the back.
  • Hiking Essentials: 6-8ft leash, Collar, Quality dog pack, Water, Dish, Dog sweater or emergency blanket, Proof of vaccinations ( some places require proof of vaccinations in order to receive a permit), Tie out chains, Flea collar, Bags to clean up after your dog.

Dogs LOVE to walk and explore. It is in their "blood" to do so! All breeds and sizes enjoy this time to get outside of their territory (that is their yard and home). Sniffing new scents, saying "hi" to another doggie friend, investigating all those new sights and fun sounds, walking is the one thing they deserve at least once a day. So get moving everyone and give your puppy or adult dog their daily walk!

Just Remember -

A tired dog is a happy and well behaved one!

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  • We love our dog backpack. Our walks are so much more draining to our high energy mutt. He's 37 lbs, so we pack about 9-10 lbs of stuff in his pack. Here's our list:

    Water bottle for him - about 1 lb
    Water bottle for the kids - about 1 lb
    Water bottle for adults - about 2 lbs
    Golf balls - about 3 lbs
    Granola bars and peanuts for the kids, treats for the dog - about 1 lb
    Extra leash, doggie cleanup bags, bug spray - about 1 lb

    It's nice fur us because we don't have to carry all the food and water for everyone, and nice for him because as our walk progresses, his load becomes lighter.

    After a nice hike with a few extra pounds on him, he sleeps under our feet the rest of the night.

  • LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on the backpack!

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