Who is Walking Who?

The best gift you can give your dog and yourself is to start taking obedience classes. Dogs really enjoy these classes and you, as a pet parent will reap the benefits.

However, for one reason or another you do not have the time to take your dog to classes, but would enjoy taking your dog for a walk that was enjoyable for both of you, here are some suggestions.

If your dog takes you for a walk, and you would like to stop feeling like an anchor at the end moving boat, here is a solution.

Every time your dog starts to pull you in one direction, stop and reverse directions. You may feel a little silly for a while, and the ground you cover will not seem worthwhile, but soon your dog will get the idea that you are in control.

In a dog’s world there is supposed to be a leader, and as I understand it that leader is supposed to be you, not the dog.

In your yard, a park or even in the house put your dog on a short leash and practice walking. Every time your dog starts to lead you, stop and change direction (go any direction you choose) the purpose is to keep the leash slack, and the dog walking with you.

Put some treats in your pocket, and every time your dog walks with you and the leash is slack give him/her a treat, and tell it what a good dog it is.

It may take a while for the thought to get through to your dog, but persistence on your part will pay with a nice walk, instead of dislocated shoulders for you.

If your dog is always tempted to chase a cat, squirrel or another dog while on a walk or out in the park. It is a good idea to teach your dog the “leave it command.”

This too, will require diligence and repetitive training on your part. The place to start is in a room with no distractions.

Have your dog on a leash, and put a treat or toy that your pet would like on the floor, but out of reach. As your dog strains to reach it say, “leave it,” if he/she comes back to you and the leash is slack, give your dog a treat (not the one on the floor.)

This will require some effort at first, once you graduate to the outside world and see a squirrel, give the “leave it command.” Hopefully, your dog will ignore the temptation and continue on your walk. A pocket full of treats should accompany every walk, as good behavior needs to be rewarded.

Lunging is almost the same problem as chasing, except the “lunger” tries to jump up on the target, be it a person or another dog.

Some dogs tend to do this only at certain times, and it is up to you to notice what brings on this behavior. If it is sudden closeness (someone walking very close to you,) you need to be prepared to distract your pet until the “menace” moves on by.

You do this by distracting your dog with a toy or treat, and bringing him/her to the side, away from the considered threat.

Again this will take practice, and will need to be reinforced with treats and “lots” of praise. The intent here is to have your dog realize that other dogs or people in close range are no threat, and when he/she does let them pass, a treat and some praise is always available

Probably one of the most important commands you can teach your dog is the “sit and stay” command. This command is great when you are getting ready to go out for a walk, and your dog is bounding around with excitement.

It is great also, if you have guests or someone at the door and you do not want your dog running out into the street. It can save a dog’s life from running loose in the road.

This too will take a great deal of patience and practice on your part and of course the dog, too. A leash is necessary and of course “treats.”

Dog training does seem like a course in bribery, but association with things good seems to do the trick with dogs.

Consider that we have been told a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach and dogs are considered man’s best friend, what more can I say.

When trying to get your pup to behave at the door while learning to sit, you need to have him/her leashed. If your dog is bouncing around, command it to sit. If you dog does not, do nothing until it calms down. Once the dog settles down, some praise, and a small treat is welcome, then proceed out the door.

It would do well to have a friend or household member practice this command with you at the door. Have someone ring the doorbell, and when the dog goes running (leash on) tell it to sit/stay, open the door and let the person in. If the dog behaves, a treat, and praise is in order. This will require practicing many times a day, every day until your dog gets the idea.

If you are not able to control your dog consider asking help from a trainer. Having your dog obey specific commands is paramount to your safety, the people around you and most of all could save your dog’s life.

Drs. Foster and Smith Inc.