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Off-Leash Walking

Off-Leash Walking
Photo credit: annieb / Flickr

Every dog, large and small, loves to be put on a leash and be taken for a walk each day. It’s crucial for a pet owner, however, to maintain discipline over their pooch and ensure that they walk the dog rather than allowing the dog to walk them.

A dog that runs in front of its owner, whether chasing squirrels or marking its territory or just sniffing around, is a dog that displays traits as the alpha of the pack rather than the proper submissive pet of its owner. This leads to issues with behavior and obedience, stressing out your dog and yourself. Why should you avoid off-leash walking?

Set The Pace

When you open the door to allow your dog and yourself to leave, what message do you send? If you allow the dog to exit first, it tells the dog that he or she is more important than you, and that you will wait on it. If the dog has no reason to think that the owner is in charge, why should they obey your commands?

The principle of determining authority is the largest factor behind the importance of using a leash to prevent a dog from acting out. Dogs worry when they are the alpha in the human-pet relationship, since it causes stress for them to decide where to go and what to do when confronted by a possible threat (such as another person, another dog, or a car).

You can relieve this stress by projecting the authority of a pack leader, forcing your dog to wait on you to leave, and then ensuring it does not run ahead.

Keeping Steady On The Leash

The leash is the single most valuable instrument for teaching a dog discipline. A dog on a leash is a dog that cannot run ahead and interact with the environment, unless you allowed him to do so. When you first introduce a puppy to the outside world, they’ll be so energetic that it’s difficult to control and restrain them.

Every effort you make to ensure they obey your command and your pace, however, will make them more obedient as they grow and learn. Puppies need to understand that they follow whenever you lead. By allowing them to run in each direction, they develop the understanding that there are no limits on their behavior, and will be likely to bark and perhaps even bite when confronted by strangers.

To train your pooch to avoid pulling on the leash, order them to come to your feet whenever they reach the end of their tether and still pull. Have them sit and reward them with praise or a treat. Reward your dog when it stays at your side, and let them know the activity comes to a halt when they tug on the leash.

Only on rare occasions should you take your dog for off-leash walks, such as at a dog park, and only after you’ve demonstrated that the dog must be obedient prior to being set off. Make your dog heel and wait before the leash is removed.

Dog walking helps keep your dog fit, happy, and obedient. It’s important to establish good habits with your pooch, however, to ensure that they understand that going out for a walk means recreation on your schedule and not theirs. A dog who has no restrictions to their behavior, walking without a leash, is a dog who will not obey commands and may even represent a potential threat to other people and dogs.


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