Happy Walking

Grass vs Sidewalk...pick your surface.

I like to use two distinct styles of walking when I'm out with Jasper.

#1. Paws on Grass

If Jasper's paws are touching nature, be that dirt, grass, sand, or water, I will give him all the space and time he needs, and will generally let him pick the direction if it's safe to do so. This will give him the chance to pee, check-out the new smells...and normally roll in something vile!

#2. Pounding the pavement

We are going places...and have little time to stop! I want to pick my space on the sidewalk wisely. If I'm walking too close to a building, flower bed, or patch of grass Jasper may want to stop, so I try and position myself, and my pup, in the least distracting part of the sidewalk as possible. There's nothing wrong with occasionally stopping, 'cos face it, walking from A to B can be pretty boring, but this style of walk is aimed to help you get places, with as few distractions as possible.

Starting The Walk

Start the walk as you mean to continue. This isn't always as easy as it sounds, especially if it's wet outside.

I like to grab a small handful of treats, and click and reward for eye contact and calm behaviour before opening the front door, then continuing this game as I start down the street, clicking and rewarding my pup for staying close to me.

At first a small handful of treat will barely last 3 minutes, but with a little practice you will quickly be able to stretch them out a lot longer. Instead of clicking every 3-5 steps, you will progress to rewarding for a certain number of "car lengths" or "lamp posts", which will quickly become half a block.

Thirty seconds of nice walking soon becomes three to five minutes – depending on the level of distractions.

Pulling Forward

The last thing you want to do is let your pup drag you around the block, through flower beds, after pigeons, or chase other dogs. If they find it rewarding, they will continue doing it – and many dogs seem to believe that the only way to get their owners to the park is to drag them.

Instead, you want to teach your pup that the only way to get anywhere, is together.

  • As soon as your pup starts to speed up (before the leash get tight), Stop.

  • Wait for them to check-in with you, without prompting. As soon as they make eye-contact, say “Yes”, take a small step back with one foot, and lure them into a loose Heel position next to you.

  • Take a couple of steps forward, with your pup walking nicely next to you, then reward with a treat.

  • If your pup is too distracted to check-in with you unaided, you can help them out. Call their name once, and if that doesn't result in eye contact make a squeaky/smooching noise, clap your hands, tap your feet...what ever you need to do to get their attention. Once they make eye contact say “Yes”, take a small step back with one foot, and lure them back into that Heel position.

Lagging Behind

Your pup may put the breaks on for multiple reasons, it's a very distracting world out there for a young one.

Things to remember: Every time your leash goes tight, it acts like a break. Trying to pull your pup after you will only results in them digging their heels in harder.

Be patient, wait for an opportunity to invite them to move forward.

  • I love using 6 foot leashes (not retractable ones), which allow me to move away from my pup when they stop, plus allows them more freedom to explore without you having to follow them.

  • When your puppy stops, reel out the rest of your 6 foot leash until you are holding the handle (only if it is safe to do so), then throw your arm back – adding an extra 2 foot to the leash.

  • Throwing your arm back put slack into a tight leash, and often acts as break release, encouraging your pup to move forward.

  • If the street is busy, keep the leash short (do not reel it out), but still throw your arm back to release the tension.

  • With your leash hand behind you, use your other hand to lure you pup in. Wait for the moment your pup chooses to follow you, praise them with a “Yes”, wait for them to come in close, take an extra couple of steps, then reward with a small treat.

Happy Walking!