Training While on a Walk; Why it is Ruining Your Dog Training
Dog Training Requires Your Full Attention
When do people do their dog training?
- Well, for some people never
- For others, rarely
- For many, only when they are angry
- For some only at obedience class (we know who you are hahaha)
- And, others attempt this miracle when taking their dog on a walk.
I honestly think some people think training can ONLY HAPPEN WHEN THE DOG IS ON A WALK…
We Dog Trainers Know
The benefit of being a now dog trainer, is that I have worked through all these problems and have come out on the other side.
Oh, yes… I will regretfully admit when I was 18 and had my first dog (who was EXTREMELY dog aggressive and a 150# Rottweiler) I thought that dog training must occur at class or on walks too.
I wish I had her back, just to see how far my intellect and training has come since then, and yet I am very grateful for all that she taught me even through the stress.
SHE is the reason I am a dog trainer.
But, we experienced dog trainers know that training actually happens first, successfully at home!
And, I am not just talking about sit or down.
Leash manners, biofeedback, eye contact and focus, impulse control; that is all best taught at home.
My house is boring.
Not a lot going on, just me with sleeping dogs hanging out working at home most of the time.
There are very few distractions to pull my dog’s attention away from ME.
When I go into the kitchen or past their food bowls, that is about as exciting as life gets for them. They swarm and follow.
I don’t have squirrels or birds or deer or kids on scooters or other dogs barking at them in my home. Their attention is bound to be on me, and isn’t that what I want?
Let’s be honest, if my dog can’t focus on me and listen to me in my home how ever could I expect her to do it when a squirrel runs past her or a cow is mooing in the field across the way?
So don’t you think that it would be easier to teach her to look at me and not pull on a leash inside first?
I know, that just threw you for a curve ball.
You are currently cussing at me and shouting things like
“Why would she pull IN THE HOUSE?”
“How does that help me?”
Let me try to explain
We don’t take our elementary school children to the zoo and try and teach them mathematics do we?
NO, it is kind of a ridiculous notion unless you simply want them to count the animals they see.
And, we can’t go from 1+1=2 to calculous without the in between building blocks can we?
No, most of us can’t
So why then do we expect “college type control” from our dogs when we “take them to the zoo” without giving them the building blocks they need?
It too is a ridiculous notion if you break it down like that, right?
And going outside, with all the sounds, and smells and excitement is a lot like going to the zoo, just for your dog.
Learning must be done in a fairly unexciting and sterile environment for both kids and dogs and THEN we can build on that learning later when we add a little more excitement.
For more about unrealistic expectations for your dog click here
I’ve Worked with A Lot of Top Level Dog Trainers
Some of the people I have trained with have been world level trainers and competitors.
Know what they don’t do?
Train on a walk…
Actually, to be honest; most of us don’t walk our dogs.
Walking is not the best exercise for a dog, for more on that and why click here
Most of us take our dogs to a field and work on obedience AND exercise at the same time.
We train in many different places (this is important) but we don’t usually WALK our dogs for exercise or obedience.
I mean, sure, I like a stroll just like the next person and I take my dogs out for walks and hikes and I do engage in obedience and exercise with them while out; but I think of walking as more something for me to do to unwind rather than something for them.
Dogs wandering off leash, dogs on invisible fence threatening to kill my dogs, kids, dogs, people, cats, squirrels; all of those things are not conducive to teaching and learning and is sometimes very stressful for the dog and owner.
Once your dog is trained, you can work anywhere; but in the beginning it is easier to help a dog than it is to push them past their comfort zone and expect them to do crazy difficult things (like laying down on command while an off leash dog charges) without teaching them in a safe environment and proofing their doggy obedience in many places.
A Walk is Just a Walk
A walk is just a walk. If your dog is pulling on leash or can’t concentrate, I suggest you not take him on walks for a bit while you tighten your training at home, or in various other fields or parking lots.
You can still exercise him by playing retrieve games, and using obedience and exercise: for instance in order for me to throw your ball for you, you must sit, down, heel, give me eye contact (etc. wherever your dog’s obedience skills are at) THEN I will throw your ball.
Your dog gets a two for one if you do the two things together.
Walks are fine, walks are wonderful but they don’t make for good early training.
And, if you decide you are going to go on a walk with a dog that has already had the basic foundation laid at home then make sure you work on obedience and don’t do it “just for the walk”.
Don’t get lazy and allow your dog to sputter and pull. For more on why your dog is pulling you on leash, click here
So don’t pick a route or a destination, or a destination time, because your dog’s lack of obedience may keep you from your “walk”.
Instead you may be turning around and changing direction to keep him engaged and keep him from pulling! You might not make it past your neighbor’s house in the beginning!
So if you want to go on a peaceful walk to the park, go alone; until you teach your dog to accompany you!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.