Did you know there are different ways to take our dogs for walks? Yep! Walks are not just for exercise! Walks are wonderful for exercise, but they also offer a great opportunity for your dog to explore with all its senses. More than that, though, walks are a great way to incorporate daily training into your schedule. Dogs need to exercise their minds just as much as they need to exercise their bodies.
While most dogs love walks no matter what, it can get a little boring walking the same path day in and day out at the same pace and at the same time of day. Mix it up a little and try to incorporate some training into your walk! Make sure you have your dog bag for treats ready to go with you so you can easily reward your dog for a job well done. But how exactly can we train our dogs on our daily walks? And what do we teach them or practice?
Teach your dog something new
There are tons of options for things we can train on our daily walks with our pooch! In addition to the standard coming when called training and leash training, you can even teach your dog to perform random tasks or tricks. We can teach our dogs all sorts of things when we are on our walks. We just have to use our imaginations.
For example, ask your dog to jump up on a flat tree stump or to walk around a fire hydrant two times. Of course, there is really no reason for either of these tasks, but that's okay! Challenging your dog to learn something new and just to try something out of the ordinary can be a great way to add a little excitement to your walk and help establish a deeper connection between you and your dog.
Teach your dog to walk safely
You could also practice and teach walking safely. Maybe you live on a busy street and worry about your dog's safety if they were to ever get off leash. Start teaching your dog to stop and sit and look at you any time you approach a place where you cross the street. Once your dog has sat and looked at you, give your release word and praise your dog like crazy with lots of pets and treats. Eventually, the hope in doing this is that the dog will be less likely to run into a busy road if you haven't given them the command to walk into the road with you.
Teach your dog leash manners
Of course, there are the traditional things we can teach our dogs on walks as well, such as leash manners like not pulling or walking way ahead of you. Our dogs should be walking right beside us. Of course, a little bit of leeway can be good when you are on an exploring walk! Allowing a dog's eyes and nose to lead him is a great way to mix up and add some excitement to our regular walks.
But, if walks are the bane of your existence because your dog is a notorious puller, don't give up! Grab your dog walking bag and fill it with your dog's favorite high-value treat. The kind of delicious treat he would walk to the ends of the earth to get. Start by showing your dog the treats, and go for a short walk around the block. Your dog will likely try to pull but stand your ground and do your best not to move.
Once your dog looks back to see why you aren't moving, get super excited, tell him to come, and be sure to reward your dog with treats, praise, and forward movement when he comes closer to you. Keep doing this process until your dog learns that pulling won't get him anywhere, and instead, looking at you is the way to go to continue the walk and get a delicious treat!
As your dog walks beside you, offer praise and a treat reward. If your dog starts to pull ahead of you, try changing direction, and when the dog looks at you and follows, offer a reward. In fact, anytime your dog looks up at you during your walk is a great time to offer praise and treats! Doing this helps the dog form an association between you, treats, and walking beside you.
Teach your dog to come when called
In fact, after letting your dog lead the way for a little bit (not pulling, of course), practice recall again! Practicing recall can be done even with a regular-length leash. Stop your walk and give your dog the sit and stay command. Slowly walk away from your dog, as far as the leash will allow, and then give your come command and start running. Your dog will get super excited to catch you and will be following your command at the same time! After "allowing" your dog to catch you, give several treats to your dog from your dog walk bag in quick succession and give your dog tons of praise while doing so.
Up the ante and try this while your dog is distracted by something exciting. Say your dog notices a squirrel on the walk and starts pulling on the leash to go after it. Quickly get your dog's attention, so he looks at you. Then give your "come" command and start moving away from the distraction. Then repeat the same exciting reward process with praise and lots of treats from your dog treat pouch when your dog starts to follow you.
Treats and high praise
Offering plenty of treats and high praise will help remind your dog that whatever you have to offer will always be better than any other distraction that may catch his eye! When dogs choose to ignore us, it's because they've decided that something else is more exciting than us. Yep, we've become the boring parent in their eyes. Remind your dog how much fun you are!
Remember to have fun
Last but not least, remember to have fun with your dog! Whether learning something new or practicing what we already know, walks and daily training should always be a part of you and your dog's life. But it doesn't have to be boring! If you can't already tell, at Tequila & Bones, we just don't do boring. Keep it exciting and keep it fun - your dog will thank you for it!