Who doesn’t want to enjoy a leisurely stroll with their dog, walking nicely by their side without any pulling or tugging?
However, achieving that kind of walk is easier said than done!
Walking by your side is a challenging task for a dog and requires a great deal of focus. That’s why I refer to it as Purposeful Walking. It involves shorter bursts of intense focus from both you and your dog. It’s different from hiking, long line work, or casual walks.
When your dog pulls on the leash, it’s not an attempt to drive you crazy. Usually, it’s because your dog is excited, and everything else in the world seems more interesting than you in that moment. The goal is to make yourself more engaging than the enticing smells, captivating sights, and intriguing sounds outside. Plus, dogs naturally prefer to get to their destination quickly! They move at a faster pace than most humans, and our monotonous straight-line sauntering bores them to death.
Here are some tips and tricks to make your walks with your dog more interesting:
- Be an interesting and fun human companion! Keep some super high-value treats (like pieces of hot dog) handy and cut them into small bits. Whenever your furry friend walks by your side, say “Good Dog” and reward them. You can even give them a treat while you both keep moving! Timing your praise just right, before they become too enthralled by a smell, say, “Fido, stick with me, let’s go!” in a warm and enthusiastic tone. This will help your dog refocus on you before getting too sidetracked.
- Make your walk more engaging! Add some surprise turns when going around a trash can or a light pole. Zig and zag in and out of natural obstacles on your path, such as rocks or trees. Do a 180-degree turn and head in the opposite direction. The key is to mix it up! Also, vary your pace. Sprint forward for 12 steps, then slow down to a crawl, and then resume a quick, natural pace. Don’t hesitate to stop sometimes! If your dog starts pulling, come to a complete stop. Place your hands firmly against your belly button to eliminate any give and take on the leash as your dog pulls or moves around. Simply stand still and wait. Say nothing. Just wait. As soon as your dog stops pulling, resume walking. Movement is motivating and fun for your dog, so keep it fresh and interesting, and your dog will appreciate it.
Here are some little hacks to master Purpose-Driven Walking with your dog:
Before the walk:
- Try burning off some of your dog’s excess energy by playing a game of tug or fetch.
- Practice some of the tricks you have taught your dog.
- Ensure you have the right training tool. Until your dog has mastered Purpose-Driven Walking, you’ll need a training tool that helps your dog understand gentle leash pressure and guidance. Your regular flat collar with tags is not a training tool yet. I highly recommend our Learning Leash with Learning Loop, which provides better control over your dog’s forward motion.
At the Pillars of Pack Leadership Academy, we offer a comprehensive online dog training course that goes beyond Purpose-Driven Activities. Our course teaches you how to:
- Establish effective structure
- Establish effective rituals
- Master Purpose-Driven Activities
- Establish respect for space boundaries
- Master the human component
By following these tips and enrolling in our academy, you’ll be on your way to enjoying purposeful walks with your dog while strengthening your bond.