Four Simple Things to Teach Your Dog on a Walk

Did you know that most common excuse people conjure up for not getting a dog is that they hardly have any time to take care of a dog?  Not only that, but some people who do have dogs sometimes struggle with finding enough time to feed, walk, play, and train their canines.

That being said, spending less than adequate time with your dog is unacceptable.  If your dog normally spends more than half of the day alone or confined to his cage, maybe it’s time for you to reevaluate how much time you actually want to spend with him.  However, if you’re just a busy dog owner who’s looking to free up some time to play and cuddle with your dog, we have a solution for you!

While taking your dog for a walk, use the time to train him as well.  It’s a great way to save some time, and it’s also highly effective because your dog sees the walk as a reward for his efforts!  While we still recommend training your dog at home or in obedience class, also training him on a walk helps him come to obey your commands quicker.  Ultimately, your training time at home or in obedience class will be shortened, and you’ll have more time to play and cuddle with your (obedient) dog!

Here are four different things you can teach your dog on a walk:

Go to the bathroom

With this one, we’re under the assumption that your dog already knows to do his business outside and not inside the house.  What you want to do here is to have the dog urinate or defecate before he begins his walk.  This way, your dog will enjoy his walk more and you’ll get to clean up the mess and deposit it in your own trash can.  That sure beats walking around with a bag of dog doo for an extended period of time, frantically searching for a public trash can!
When you leave the house with your dog, stand still in your yard and let your dog sniff around.  If he doesn’t do his business within five minutes, take him back inside and try again later.  As soon as he urinates or defecates, praise him profusely and let him know that he’s going for a walk (by saying “let’s go”, “walk”, or whichever word you choose).  He’ll catch on quickly that he won’t go for a walk unless he does his business first.

Socialize

Is your dog shy and timid?  There’s nothing wrong with that, but you might want to ease his nerves by showing him that the world isn’t as scary as it seems.  Feeding your dog bits and pieces of his dinner throughout the walk helps him form positive associations with people, other dogs, and the sound of traffic.  Offer him a piece of kibble every time a person, another dog, or a car passes by.

Heel

A dog constantly walking ahead and pulling on the leash is likely to think that he’s the alpha of the pack.  It’s your responsibility to show him that you’re the boss.  Start with making him sit before you open the front door.  Most dogs go crazy upon the prospect of a walk and blast out of the door as soon as you open it, which reinforces his belief that he’s the one who decides when the walk should start.
Before going on a walk, let him know that it’s about to begin.  He may get excited.  Wait patiently until your dog sits down.  As soon as he does, praise him and put his leash on.  He might go crazy again.  Wait again until he sits down.  Repeat the process when you open the door and again when you step outside.  This website has more useful information and pictures on how to get your dog to heel properly.

Sit

In short training intervals, command your dog to sit.  Soon enough, he’ll realize that sitting down isn’t the end of the world, and that he’ll get to continue with his walk.  Keep each interlude shorter than 5 seconds, to keep your dog alert and ready for another command.  It’s a good idea to also train your dog to sit before crossing the street.  When you approach an intersection, get him to sit and stay still (without pulling the leash) for at least five seconds.  If he stands up or pulls on the leash, start over until he successfully remains seated for five seconds.  When you’re ready, say “let’s go” and resume walking.  After about a week of doing this, he should start sitting voluntarily at each intersection.

If you take the time to train your dog during a walk, you’ll end up with an obedient dog sooner than later!  Who wouldn’t want that?!  What are some of the training techniques you’ve used during a walk?  We’d love to hear all about it!

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