Top 3 Dog Walking Tips from a Guide Dog Mobility Instructor
Walking your dog is so much more than just a physical activity. In addition to the health benefits from getting active, it’s also extremely beneficial for behaviour training, socialisation and developing the bond between the dog and their owner.
To assist our pawsome PAWGUST participants with their daily dog walks, we’ve asked our Guide Dog Mobility Instructor, Eddie Sullivan, to share his top three dog walking tips.
Tip 1: Invest in a good harness
A no-pull harness can make walking much more enjoyable for both you and the dog. A good harness will “hug” the chest of the dog instead of pulling at its neck, allowing your pooch to breathe easily and stay calm.
It also reduces the risk of your dog developing any trauma or anxiety that can develop from uncomfortable neck pressure when walking.
Tip 2: Teach your dog to walk on a loose lead
If you’re an inexperienced dog walker or if your pup is constantly pulls at the lead, it’s best to start your walks in a low distraction environment that allows you to practice loose leash walking.
Loose leash walking takes practice as most dogs get carried away with new smells and environments. If your dog loves to play, you can make loose leash walking fun by turning into a game of reward.
“Reward the dog when they are beside you on a loose lead with a small treat and praise in a happy, animated tone of voice. If the dog starts to pull the lead, then immediately stop, turn and walk in the opposite direction for 10 or 20 metres, then turn and resume walking in the original direction.”
It’s also important during loose leash practice to create distance between yourself and obvious distractions such as other dogs. From here, your pup will become more comfortable around distractions and as both of you get used to loose leash walking, you can gradually introduce distractions and more challenging environments.
Tip 3: Always remain calm and confident
Stressful walks are no fun for you or for the dog. Remaining calm and taking time to enjoy this bonding time can act as a stress reliever, especially if your pooch has the tendency to be overly energetic or anxious.
“Always remain relaxed, calm and confident and allow them to stop and explore the environment with their nose from time to time.”
Remind yourself that your dog is never trying to be “bad”, they are simply acting instinctively and their bodies may be on high alert when exposed to unfamiliar environments. Be patient and allow your dog to become familiar with new sights and sounds by stopping every now and then.
If you continue to have difficulty, or have a reactive dog, then seek advice from a professional dog training or behaviourist who specialises in positive reinforcement to help build the relationship between you and your dog.
We hope that Eddie’s dog walking tips will help you to conquer the PAWGUST challenge! In case you haven’t heard, PAWGUST is a Guide Dogs Australia initiative that challenges all dog owners to walk their dog for at least 30 minutes every day this August, to raise money for our future Guide Dogs.
Find out more about PAWGUST here: https://www.pawgust.com.au/NSWWEB