The Power Of The Walk.
If your dog was a member of a wild pack she would wake up, stretch, and set off to follow her pack leader on an all day hunt for water and food.
No matter how big or small your dog may be she has the same need to ‘travel’ that her wild ancestors had and you are honouring her true nature when you enable her to ‘travel’.
We have learned to walk our dogs every day, twice a day for at least 30 minutes.
You may look at it as ‘going for a walk’ but your dog sees it as something much more primal. The pack will form bonds that last a lifetime by living and working together. Every dog knows that the survival of the pack is paramount and every decision that the pack leader makes is designed to make the pack stronger.
As humans we must be our dogs pack leader and we will achieve this by exhibiting calm assertive energy. Dogs will not follow weak energy and dogs see anger and frustration as weak energy.
Your dog may trust you because you feed her but she will only respect you if you show the calm assertive energy that all dogs recognise in a pack leader.
The respect that you seek starts with ‘the walk’.
The first thing to remember is that leaders lead, that is to say your dog should never be in front of you. You walk through the front door first and during the walk your dog must be next to or behind you, never in front of you.
I would be willing to bet that at the moment your dog is dragging you all over the place when you walk her, I know that our two dogs certainly did and I doubted that I could ever change that.
We learned about the need to keep our dogs next to us and the simple technique for achieving this. We transmit our mood, energy and what we want our dogs to do through the lead.
The goal is to have no tension on the lead until we need to transmit a message to our dog.
When you first try to keep your dog from moving in front of you you will be tempted to pull back on the lead. Your dog is getting the message “Please pull me along the footpath”, and this is not the message you are trying to send. Instead, pull up on the lead, in this way you are lifting the dogs weight off its front legs and sending the message, “You are moving too fast”. You will be pleasantly surprised by how quickly your dog will understand what you want.
You will know that you are getting somewhere when you see your dog look up at you and make eye contact. This eye contact is your dog saying, “What do you want me to do now?”
You want your dog to get into traveling mode quickly so you must discourage her previous habit of pulling in all directions. To help her to get into a rhythm and to reinforce the fact that you are leading this walk, do not allow your dog to sniff the ground or to urinate until at least 10 minutes into the walk and then only when you decide to allow it. This is seen as a reward for concentrating on what you want her to do.
It is important to remember that all dogs want to work. They need to be challenged and focusing during the walk is a challenge. So is waiting. Dogs use up a lot of energy just waiting for your next command, and this is energy that she might be using to eat your couch!
By Terry Barca
Waiting patiently. Waiting expends a dogs energy. Every dog needs a job and waiting and walking are good jobs to have.