Top 5 tips every dog walker should know
1. Do you have a really reliable recall?
There is nothing better than watching your dog have a good gallop around, you can really see the joy in their faces! But when it is time to recall them, can you? A reliable recall is vital for ANY handler and dog team. It might just save your dog’s life one day! If he was racing full-speed towards a busy road, you called him, he slammed on his brakes without even questioning, whipped his head around, put his ears back and ran full-speed straight back to you, how utterly relieved would you be? And how grateful that you had taught him that amazing recall?
2. Basic life skills are key to a trouble free walk.
After all you don’t want your dog rushing over to a family enjoying their picnic to join in! We cover so many life skills exercises as part of our training classes. Below are the fundamental skills that you need to see success in your training:
- Self Control – Does your dog wait when you ask him? Does he leave food if told to? Does he sit politely when greeting people? OR, does he ignore your cue to “stay” and get up whenever he likes
- Relationship – a dog and handler need to have a good relationship together that is built on trust, fun and positivity. When we ask our dogs to ‘work’ for us, this should be a positive thing for them and it should be answered with a wagging tail and a happy face. Try to live by the philosophy that Work = Play = Work and find the fun and joy in everything that you do with your dog.
- Desire – There has to be something in it for the dog. He needs to be well rewarded for all of the games you play, and that must come from things that are rewarding for your dog. If your dog does not like sausage (really?), don’t use this as a reward for good behaviour. He is not going to rush to repeat that behaviour if the payment is something he doesn’t like!
3. Does your dog go to the toilet on cue?
This one sounds a little odd, but trust us, this is such a useful behaviour to teach your dog. It’s very easy to achieve too. When the call of nature does happen, simply say a cue such as ‘toilet’ whilst your dog is in the act and then praise and reward them.
4. How is your dog around livestock?
If you intend to walk your dog on the moor off lead you need to be sure they aren’t going to chase or worry the livestock. Farmers do have a legal right to shoot a dog that is seen worrying or chasing their animals and so this certainly isn’t a suck it and see situation. It goes without saying that some breeds of dog (herding types for instance) have more of an interest in livestock. Do you know and understand your dog? Having a dog that is well behaved around livestock actually comes part and parcel with your life skills and recall training mentioned above.
5. Seek help if needed
OK, so your dog doesn’t behave all that well when out on a walk. Rather than grin and bear it, seeking help is essential. It is never too late to tackle a training challenge but the sooner you get it sorted the easier it is to turn things around.
About the Author: Lauren Langman is responsible for the design and development of all Devon Dogs classes, events and workshops. She competes in Agility at Grade 7, the highest rank of competition in the British agility arena. She regularly competes and wins at top agility events in the UK including Crufts and Olympia, and has represented the UK at World Agility Championship level on many occasions.