Dog walking is the key... to just about everything
Did you know that walking your dog correctly and daily is the key to solving behavior problems both inside and outside of the house? Many dog owners treat their dogs like human kids and either apply human psychology or take them to obedience school. But solving behavior problems, bringing peace to your house, and really enjoying your relationship with your dog can be solved in large part through the simple act of a power walk. The key component is to solidify yourself as the "pack leader" because your pet by nature will always be a dog first, and a member of your family second. Here are some important tips:
High energy dog breeds often become frustrated and bored when they don't have a daily outlet to walk-it-off and expend all that energy. This can lead to destructive behaviors, not listening, mental imbalance or even aggression. Even little dogs need a daily walk of at least 30 minute each day.
When you walk your dog, always use a collar that won't slide off, and can stay positioned very high on the neck. This gives you more control, assists dogs in feeling safer if dealing with fear issues, and encourages them to pay attention to you.
Talk less and let your energy and body language signal your dog more. Dogs actually read your energy and don't much care for all the discussion. Walk with calm assertiveness and that will be rewarded with better behavior and more respect. Don't hold past incidents in your mind or hold the leash tightly. Dogs can feel this and react to your tension. They live in the now, and this gives the opportunity every day for enjoyment and releasing the past.
Never let your dog lead you through the door or down the street. In doggy-language, the second you let him go first you are declaring him to be the pack leader rather than yourself. And your dog might love you, but you will always be viewed by his instinctual side as weak and not worthy of respect when dicipline or requests are made of him.
A dog walked correctly should be at your left side without his nose being more than an inch or so in front of you. At first, if you've always let him have his way, you might have to deal with a few temper tantrums when you change your method. But this will move on to a respectful and thoroughly enjoyable walking companionship if consistently followed through on. Correct with a harsh sound (not a debate, request or discussion), and put him back where he belongs when necessary. This is a big key to overcoming the dog-pulls-you-down-the-street syndrome!
If your dog has fear or aggression issues, use all of the above methods and then remember to keep him moving forward during any panic. How he reacts will be largely dependent on how you react! Don't avoid challenge areas, but do tire him out a bit first before doing psychological exercises. This will make him much more responsive to you.
Consistency, consistency, consistency...Did we mention that you need to be consistent? Make certain everyone in the household follows the same proceedures and techniques. Dogs with no boundaries and rules are not usually happier. Remember that by taking charge you are giving them more peace of mind and ability to be balanced.
We can't stress enough the importance of "the walk" and method used to accomplish it. Our goal is to assist you in harmonizing your relationship with your animals so that your house can truly be a harmonious environment. To learn more, we highly recommend Cesar Millan, known as The Dog Whisperer on the National Geographic Channel. You can visit his website or get past season's of the show on DVD as well. He even has a free newsletter you can sign up for online.