How do you walk your dog?
What is the purpose of walking your dog?
If you answered physical exercise, you’d be partially right, but what other purpose might walking your dog serve? Consider, how does walking your dog benefit your 4 legged friend, but also you? How can we make the most of our walks and our time for ourselves and Fido?
Some tips: Before setting out for your walk, decide what type of walk you intend to have.
In relation to the Law of Attraction, we call this Segment Intending, or taking a moment to set your intention before entering a new segment of your day. For example, before setting out for your walk, take a moment to pause, to breath, and to consider: What am I intending to occur here when we exit the door of our home?
You might envision your route, your dog’s behavior, or even how you intend to feel and present yourself along the walk. By stopping and intentionally determining in advance what type of walk we intend to have and how we intend to feel and show up during the walk, we are empowered and become more intentional, deliberate creators.
So, back to the types of walk and benefits of walking. Did you know there was more than just ‘walking the dog?’ Let’s dive in and learn more about what you’re doing now and what might feel helpful to incorporate in your walking adventures with your bestie.
Types of Walks
THE LEISURELY STROLL
Goal: to exert some physical energy and to experience the environment
How to do it: Allow your dog to take the lead, to sniff freely, and to choose the route. Maintain very basic rules and expectations with the goal to maintain safety mainly, but otherwise allowing your dog to feel empowered and make decisions.
THE TRAINING WALK
Goal: to uphold prior training and build on it. To teach your dog new tricks, rules, boundaries, and expectations.
How to do it: Training walks are the most regimented type of walk and require more engagement from the human and dog companions. Training your dog, at its simplest form is about marking and rewarding behaviors you like and want to see repeated. For example: Your dog sits without being asked. To train your dog to do this on command, the second he sits down, Mark it and name it: “Yes! Good Sit!” and give a small treat or piece of kibble when possible. Continue to Mark and Reinforce what you like whenever your dog offers a behavior you like. Alternatively, if your dog engages in a behavior you do not like, ignore (and make it obvious that you are ignoring them and their behavior, by turning away, taking a step away, crossing your arms, etc.) or redirect the behavior if it is not inherently bad, but you do not like how it is being channeled. For example: Chewing is not an inherently bad behavior. It is often great for a dog’s teeth, is a tool for how they experience their environment, and channels energy. However, Fido chewing on your shoe might be a different story…. In this case, simply redirect the behavior by calmly exchanging the item Fido is chewing for a more appropriate one. In this example, we might take the shoe and provide an antler, a Himalayan cheese stick, or a chew toy they can safely chew. (always monitor chewing activities for safety!)
Training gives you the opportunity to look for the positives and to build on them.
THE ENRICHMENT WALK
Goal: to experience and become comfortable in the world around them, utilizing a variety of senses and aiming to support their mental and emotional health.
You may incorporate some activities like rooting, sniffing, digging, running, chasing, etc. or offering ample opportunities to stop and sniff, perhaps pausing for occasional training breaks, allowing opportunities to experience things like a new environment, trail, smell etc.
You may break up this type or walk or any walk with training breaks to increase engagement, build your relationship, and to build confidence in your pup.
What it might look like… You set out on your walk and allow Fido to sniff for the first 10 minutes, do their business, and meander a bit aimlessly, until cuing them that it is time to pivot and transition. For example, whenever Penny and I train, I cue her by stating “Let’s go to Work.” This indicates that we are going into a more regimented portion of her walk where I incorporate training and I expect her focus on me. We traditionally train for 3-10 minutes at any given time and then pivot based on how Penny is presenting in the moment. My goal is always to meet each dog wherever they are from moment to moment, (vs forcing my agenda and expectations on them.) For example: if Penny seems particularly interested in sniffing and/ or digging on a particular day, I am going to allow for opportunities to incorporate more of this, all while ensuring that I am clear in my cuing and expectation from moment to moment. This ensures she is clear on the expectation and that I can be clear in my enforcement of expectations. It is important to remember that consistency is key and that training happens 24-7. Even when allowing more freedom and autonomy from your dog, it is still your job to set them up for success and guide them consistently. Dogs become confused when expectations are unclear, wishy washy, or inconsistent and then attempt to problem solve what is ok vs what is not; (which can feel like manipulation or testing, but dogs do not reason this way. They are simply trying to determine what is expected vs. what is not and they don't generalize well.)
What is your favorite type of walk and why? Which will you try out next?
Do you need some extra support in walking your dog and structuring your walks more intentionally? Reach out and set up a consult to discuss how we might be able to help!
Create your pet’s profile at www.petsinresidence.com to get started.
To learn MORE about the types of walks, see our next blog post!
Kurgo 6 in 1 waist leash
By utilizing a hands-free leash system, this allows you the opportunity to keep your dog safe and close while preventing you from unnecessarily tugging, pulling, or trying to direct your dog utilizing the leash. The leash is a failsafe for training and we empower our dog to make good choices, teaching them the expectations and enforcing them consistently. Not sure how to cultivate good leash manners in your pooch? Schedule a consult! Or check out future blogs to learn more about Leash Manners.