Sunday, June 26, 2011

Ho-Hum Walks

"My dog doesn't listen to me." "My dog doesn't come when I call." "My dog always pulls on a walk." "I admit that I don't like to take my dog for walks."

Common statements from human clients. Do you know that one of the ways to help is to be more INTERESTING? Yes, you also still need training to have your dog truly listen better and reliably come and stop pulling on walks--but if you take an interest while you're on a walk, so will your dog. The result is a dog who listens and WANTS to come when she's called.

Be the most fascinating person your dog knows! In your home as well, but especially on walks. For most dogs, walks are one of their very favorite things, right? But for humans, they can be a dreaded chore. Guess what? Muffin KNOWS you think it's a chore--and tries to enjoy herself despite you.

What if your walks were a time out there to have a good time together? Isn't that why you adopted a dog? Companionship and FUN?

Leave the latte at home! Do NOT answer your cell phone; just leave it in your pocket for an emergency! This is your Together Time! Your dog deserves your full attention (and it's safer). When I walk a dog, I don't even THINK about anything else while we're walking. It's about US. We vary our route; we stop at corners and the doggie sits; we suddenly turn around and go the other way. Be unpredictable! Be FUN!

Add in some training on your walks--not so much that the walk is ONLY about training but enough to be sure your dog will listen outdoors, too. Showing you a nice "stay" is easy in your kitchen when the food bowl is full and waiting on the counter. "Staying" while a cat walks by outside on the street is harder. Change up your pace! All of a sudden Muffin is running and she did NOT expect that. One of the most fun things is watching Polly tiptoe with you at a snail's pace for twenty feet. Cute!

"Oh, what's that, Polly? Let's go see! Oh, look, Polly, it's a dead pigeon! You may sniff it for three seconds; just don't touch it. OK, let's go, Polly!"

"Oh, is that an old sneaker? How in the world did that get there? Let's go see, Muffin! It's awesome, right?"

See fun BEFORE your dog does! It's good to be your dog's best friend, isn't it? You don't want to ALWAYS be the bad guy, right?

Still having trouble getting your dog not to drag you down the street? Try more left-hand turns (if you walk your dog on your left--be consistent with that). Every time you hit a driveway, you have more space than a standard sidewalk width and can make a nice square that includes FOUR left-hand turns. If Polly's nose bumps your knee when you turn, she won't step in front of you; she's clever like that. Still pulling? Are you carrying yummy treats? NOT dry biscuits: blech. Moist, chewy small bits of something your dog really likes. Why would Polly walk anywhere else than beside the liver-yielding, pigeon-finding human?

If she still does, call me and we'll work on it. :-)