Years ago many dogs were taught to walk with all the "correct" positioning and precision that resembled the structured nature of military dog training. And today many walks end up being anything but enjoyable for both dog and owner. Unlike what some people may still be telling us, the walk is not about performance and living up to the expectations of some silly ideals. We all might have our own purpose for walking our dogs and that's fine. But let's keep in mind that it's not always about us. Many of us simply want to be able to walk without having our shoulders pulled out of their sockets. Some just want to have a polite dog that doesn't turn into Cujo when another dog appears.
No matter what the walk means to us, here are some things that the walk shouldn't be.
1. We do not need to be in front of our dog. He simply wants to get out and enjoy life. He has no desire to lead the pack or be the first one out the door. Teaching him to be calm and polite when going out the door is all it takes to address any problems with who's leading who.
2. We do not need to keep our dogs "on a short leash". The leash is for safety and control,and the more it is used for control or corrections the more the walk becomes aversive. And the more one tries to control or correct their dog the more likely the dog will become leash reactive.
more on corrections http://www.training-your-dog-and-you...rrections.html
3. We do not need to have stringent times or durations for the walk . Any time you can go for a walk you are doing yourself and your dog a favour.
4. We do not need to reward our dogs during the walk by letting them relieve themselves, we can reward the dog for relieving himself by taking him for a walk. Most people have this backwards. One of the greatest rewards to reinforce house training a puppy outdoors is to be rewarded with a walk. The walk should be the reward, and letting your dog smell the roses is more rewarding than anything else. Reward time during the walk should never be over. Incorporate brief training sessions in the walk by asking for a heel or close walk by your side and reward that with longer sessions of free roaming. This reinforces close walking by rewarding it. When teaching loose leash walking we reward them for being slack by continuing with the walk and sometimes even a treat. God forbid.
5. We do not reward the dog after the walk by feeding him. Rewards/reinforcement doesn't last that long. Reinforcement is time sensitive. The connection must be close in time.
The walk is not about us. It is about letting our dogs being dogs. It should be as stress free as possible for the dog ,and if it is , it will be enjoyable for us as well. It is not about who's in charge ,but who's having fun and learning from it. It's about exercise, and socialization. In the end it rewards and teaches. It bonds us to our dogs, it doesn't make us adversaries. It's about the three R's reward, relax and relate.