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Give Your Dog a Job on Walks

When it comes to walking the dog, everyone wants to be able to enjoy taking their pup out on a walk without the pulling, lunging, barking, tangled up in the leash, going in every direction, and the list of unwanted behaviors goes on. Having a dog that will not do all of those things is nice on saving your arm from the pulling and embarrassment, but teaching your dog a structured walk with expectations actually does them a lot of good mentally during the walk. Plus helps their mindset at home afterward.

If every time you leave your house and all there was is chaos and no expectations of what to do or how to behave, you mentally would continue to get wound up each time you go out. Dogs, like us, want to know our expectations, and to help them live harmoniously with us, we need to provide them rules and structure. Just like us as a society, we need them. Teaching expectations while walking helps your dog's mental mindset be calm, builds respect for you, and becomes enjoyable for both you and your dog.

When teaching dogs their job for walking, I start with foundations and fundamentals inside the home, with limited distractions until they understand what I want when we walk on the leash. Then I transition to outside into our regular walks with accountability and reward for doing their job. If you need help giving your dog a job during their walk, contact us today!

Your dog's job on walks:

1. By my side. My rules for walking include staying on the same side that I instruct. (I prefer the left side, but there are situations when I will place them on my right. In the beginning, I am staying on the same side until my dog is consistent in their job.) Your dog shouldn't be going back and forth from side to side. You choose the side your dog walks on.

2. Loose leash. A leash is a tool for communication. "Hey, you're starting to go faster than me, slow back down." "We are going to be turning up ahead and I don't want to trip over you." "Pay attention because I am going to be stopping." When your dog is doing their job correctly, there is absolutely no pressure on that leash! Where I want my dog is their nose with my toes. If they're further ahead than that, they are not focusing on where I am going or what I am doing and the leash becomes tense.

3. Auto sits. Teaching your dog to sit when you stop has so many benefits, but the biggest is bringing the focus back to you during your walk. Sitting when stopping helps with impulse control and polite manners when you stop to greet other people/dogs. It also is important if you're crossing a busy street for safety.

Board & Train Chance learning his new job at walking!

4. Stay sitting until I go. If I stop to talk to someone for 10 minutes, my dog shouldn't be getting up and doing what they want. I am in charge of the walk, that includes while I am stopped. If my dog is relaxed and wants to settle into a down while I am stopped for a longer duration, that's even better! If I want my dog to go say "Hi" to someone or be able to go sniff on the community pee post, I can release them and allow it. Then back to their job. My dog is waiting for my instruction.

5. Engagement. The world is pretty exciting for dogs. However, I want to build value in myself and our walks when we go out among all of those exciting distractions. By building engagement with eye contact, energy, body language, and communication, my dog will focus on me and look to me for direction. If I can get my dog's attention more, I can help them learn to ignore certain distraction triggers, give them information, or just tell them that they are doing a really good job! Don't we all want to know when we are doing a good job?? I know your dog does.

6. Relationship Building. This goes along with #5. If I begin to build engagement with my dog, I can teach my dog value in myself and they will start to realize I am pretty great even compared to all the fun things we come across during our walks. This part of the job can also help when my dog is off-leash. If I have built a value in myself with distractions during our walks, then when my dog is off-leash they have a value in me with various things going on around us. Working on my relationship while on a walk with my dog, also has a domino effect throughout the day in the home. I want my dog to know I am the leader of our pack (human & dog), that I am in control of situations (scary, exciting, overwhelming, fun, etc.), and that they can trust me and still follow through with their job. They come to respect me more.

7. 90/10 rule. But what about sniffing? Isn't that important for dogs to be doing? After all, their noses are pretty good, shouldn't they be getting to use them? There is a time and place for sniffing. Constant sniffing on walks is undoing everything I just listed. I don't have control. I don't have respect. I don't have a dog listening and paying attention. I no longer have value in myself from my dog. Casual sniffing I allow, but if it disrupts any of the prior 6 rules of their job, it's not allowed. 90% of your walk should be structured with rules and expectations, and 10% can be allowed that "break time" from their job which allows intense sniffing, going potty, wandering on the leash, etc. Want to provide mental stimulation to your dog through sniffing? Then try scent work or tracking! Not for walks.

The benefits of giving your dog a job on walks has instant reward, but also long-lasting effects day to day with your dog. Earn your dog's respect. Enjoy taking your dog anywhere. Be able to go do more. Have a dog that listens and is in control in various environments. So, start implementing some expectations when you go out with your dog!

Want to add to their job after the walk? Do a place bed stay for 30-60 minutes after your walk. A great way to give them a mental workout, learn to settle, and add some more structure into their daily routine.

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