Common Mistakes with Dog Walking

Reading various books of dog behaviour and training, as well as volunteering with training groups, I see many mistakes dog owners unknowingly make when out for a walk with their pooch.

Here is a brief list of accidental mistakes owners make, and simple steps to correct them, making walks safer and more fun for both human and dogs alike.

Not Watching Dog's Body Language

Most dog owners see their dog, or a friends dog, out on a walk and assume the dogs are having fun lunging at one another at the end of their leads. Owners may start to pull on their leads, in hopes to bring their dog back and start raising their voice if the dog starts to bark. This scenario is far too common.

Dogs that pull on their leads towards another dog could be reactive, aggressive, nervous-aggressive (meaning it lunges forward in an attempt to scare the other dog away.) or may not be socialized enough. They could also be excited, though this is a positive reason for pulling, it can still be dangerous for the dog's throat if pulling becomes too harsh.

Any of these reasons will need proper training and dedication to help. However, the simple trick you can use is to have their favourite treat or favourite toy at hand!

Not enough dog owners take treats when out for a walk - when it's such a handy and simple trick!

Whenever your dog starts to lunge, pull or bark at the end of their lead call their name and show them what you have! They should give all their attention to that item, as well as you, now you can walk past with little drama, lurring your dog away.

If your dog doesn't look to you, then they are probably too close to a trigger! This is good experience however, as now you know what triggers this behaviour and how far you need to be in order to maintain a certain level of control to be able to distract your dog!

Puppies Will Be Puppies

Most owners assume puppy behaviour is jumping up, nibbling/biting, barking and pulling. This does not have to be the case for puppies.

Puppies do have short attention spans and do have much more energy than adult dogs, so without the right amount of exercise they do get bored resulting in disruptive behaviour.

However, training your new puppy can start as soon as you adopt them (8 weeks old.) The sooner you start training your puppy, the easier and more fun it will be to walk them!

If you leave your Great Dane puppy's training too late, their cute bouncing up and down will soon be unsafe and dangerous. Of course, this doesn't mean toy and small breeds don't need training - all dog breeds need training in order to be a happy and calm dog.

One of the best results of training, in my opinion, is that training strengthens the bond between the dog and the owner. Dogs are much more happier and faithful to their owners when training is a main factor of their daily routine. (Faithful meaning, better recall and better attention on you when giving cues.)

Shouting at the Barking

Barking is a common behaviour, sometimes more frequent than we would like. Barking at dogs, people, noises and other animals on walks can be disruptive and sometimes uncontrollable.

However, when most dogs bark on walks - their owners shout at them.

This doesn't help the barking and doesn't stop it; it provokes the dog to bark more! From the dog's view, it has spotted something to bark at and when the owner starts to shout, the owner's joining in! Resulting in a partnership of loud noises achieving nothing but an endless loop of more barking and more shouting.

If your dog barks, don't shout or try to punish the dog. Just distract them with treats or a toy, lurring them away from the trigger.

These are just a few quick tips about walking and a very small insight into dog behaviour.

The information discussed in this post is from the multiple dog behaviour and training courses I have completed, as well as from hands on experience from volunteering at dog training groups. If you are uncertain about your dogs behaviour and the cause, you should consult a trainer or a canine behaviourist. There are various causes for different behaviours, not just a lack of training.