Is walking your dog stressful?
Have you asked yourself is your dog enjoying this experience and answered no?
Well I’m here to give you permission you don’t have to walk your dog today, and maybe not walk your dog all week. Crazy right? Now don’t get me wrong your dog needs physical and mental work and leaving your dog in the backyard for their life is definitely unfair and cruel. However so is dragging your dog into scary situations they don’t have the skills to cope with and damaging sensitive skin and tissue by forcing compliance through tools. I love tools like haltis etc when used properly. You are limiting rehearsal by limiting the dog from making wrong choice, however in rough hands you can do quite a lot of damage quite quickly.
Much in the same way we can exercise our self in many ways like a gym, indoor rock climbing, hiking we can do the same for our dogs. All have varying difficulty and prerequisites before starting. All have the desired result of exercise and enjoyment Now you might enjoy the walk and your dog doesn’t, how about go without them? If they aren’t enjoying it they won’t mind and then once you are home relaxed from your stroll you can then start some training with dog. Then with some time, both you and your dog can enjoy a walk together
Let’s ask ourselves why doesn’t your dog enjoy their walk? Are they scared? Do they not understand what the lead means so you have to be harsh with your correction? Great, now we have a struggle, how do we turn this into a strength? It’s pretty simply, just by changing our language around it. For example my dog doesn’t know how to use a lead. Let’s instead ask what would I rather my dog be doing? Make sure your write that down somewhere to keep yourself accountable. Next, how can I help them understand what I rather them be doing? You might have practice leads skills; have calmness protocol in place, teach a conversation starter like paws on, or twist , have a plan for getting out of dodge. Real life is uncontrollable, rather than getting frustrated about it have plans and training in place to help you get out of there with minimal stress . All these things can be practiced first in your house with no distractions, in your yard with minimal distraction, maybe even try your front yard and slowly layer on duration and difficulty. If you need some guidance we have a progress tracker on our website under resources page, www.thenaturaldog.com.au/resources
Walking can be a fun time not a long time. By doing more exercise you are only making your dog fitter and they will need more and more if you don’t back this up with training new skills, training calm and challenging their brain. Dogs are a product of their environment and if you want a quieter more relaxed dog you need to practice that more than revving your dog up and running around.
Our dogs love to be employed and if you don’t give them something to do they will find their own and you might not like that outcome. Now this will look different for every dog and what they are motivated by will vary. You know your dog best, how do you think you can challenge them today?
Here are some ideas for exercises to try
Balance pathways- put different objects in a row for them to walk over like boxes, pillows, ladders carpet, foam. You don’t need to go out and buy expensive equipment. Try and use and what you have, get creative. Concepts being worked on: Optimism and Flexibility Send aways- I have taught my dogs a cue for sending away and then either targeting something or sending then them around it. Concepts being worked on: Grit and Focus
Food puzzles- Make sure it’s appropriate for you dog. I wouldn’t use a “lickimat” with my labs as they would try and chew it rather than lick it so I use a product like kong extremes as they are quite strong chewers. Concepts being worked on: Calmness and Grit
Lunging circles- great if you are also movement impaired yourself. It does take time putting value in this. Concepts being worked on: Body awareness and Focus
Whip it games various levels- My dogs go crazy for whip it. It’s high speed, cardio work so needs to have a warm up and cool off exercise first
Paws up/ touch - Using different objects with paws up and even transition changes from stand, sit and drop. Concepts being worked on: Thinking in arousal and Proximity
Want more ideas why not join us at one of our classes? We recommend your first class you attend without a dog so you can get a feel for the class and we can put you on a path to success with your dog. I recognise as a owner of a naught but nice dog, entering a new class with unknown outcomes can be stressful. I truly believe you will get as much out of the class without a dog because you can pay attention easier and go home and practice in a safe, distraction free environment and rehearse the right way the first time.
or maybe a 1 to1 might suit you and your dog better.
As always, we would love to hear from you and what your alternative exercises are. Happy Training all