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Walking Skills

dogtraining training walking

What should walks look like with your dog?

Your dog should be able to get some much needed exercise while also being able to explore and sniff around. Dogs' noses are amazing and some sniffing around here and there not only helps your dog gather a ton of information about their environment but it is also good for their mental health. It shouldn't be a free for all especially if you can't get your dog's focus outside. Walks are a great opportunity to do something fun with your dog and bond with them. You want your dog to be able to explore but also be able to focus on you and know that you exist outside.  Keep in mind all training is a work in progress and you should reward the little successes. This is not something that you and your dog will be able to perfect overnight. 
There are other things to consider if you're getting frustrated, how distracting is your neighborhood or the street you are walking on? Are you asking your dog for something when they are around too many distractions? Are they even able to follow through? Have you ever worked on what you are asking your dog to do around distractions? Remember to set them up for success. 

What type of treats should you bring on a walk?
I like to mix it up between average treats and high value as well as lots of praise of course. Even if your dog is into low value treats at home let's not forget that inside you really don't have many distractions vs outside where there can be an overload of distractions. Sights, sounds, SMELLS.... those low value treats might not cut it. My go to A+ treats are boiled chicken, cheese, Small Batch freeze dried patties as well as Stella & Chewy's freeze dried dinner patties and meal mixers.

Loose Leash Walking vs Free Walking
Loose Leash Walking is the structured walk to get some exercise, your dog walks on one side, pick a side, left or right and anyone who walks the dog should be consistent. I usually hold a leash with one hand through the handle and my other hand is my guiding hand so holding it about mid leash so the dog has enough room to be either slightly ahead, next to or even slightly behind sort of in a half circle next to me. Name your walks, for LLW usually I will say let's go. The goal is to praise your dog and reward them while they are walking where you want them to as dogs repeat behaviors that are rewarding. Once your dog is pulling and has checked out it's too late. Focus on the good walk, reward/praise more often if needed. 
If your dog crosses over in front or behind you simply guide them back using the leash. I don't use leash corrections, I guide the dog back next to me where I want them. If your dog starts pulling ahead, either say slow and stop until the tension on the leash loosens or slow & let's go taking a couple of steps in the opposite direction then let's go and switch directions to continue in the original direction. This tells the dog I won't follow you if you're pulling. 
The Free Walk is the part of the walk where your dog doesn't have to be on one side, they are "free" even though they are still on leash. They can sniff around, go from side to side or do whatever dog stuff they want to. Make sure to name your free walk as well, you can say you're free or go ahead... Name your walks whatever you'd like but just name them so your dog knows what you want from them.
Alternate between the structured walk and the free walk, with puppies it's 50%/50% and with adolescent/adult dogs usually 75% structured and 25% free walk. 
Now get out there and have some fun connecting with your dog, take a different route, go to a different place or maybe go check out that trail at the forest preserve.

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