Walking dogs
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How to walk your dog: advice and recommendations

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Taking your dog for a walk each day can either be a pleasure, or an ordeal. It all depends on what your dog is like, and how you manage his behaviour. To help you to make sure that your walks are pleasant and stress free, here at Ultima we have some advice for you. Firstly, you need to understand how important it is to walk your dog every day. This will help you to plan quality walking time, which will make you both feel good.

Why do you need to walk your dog each day?

Whether your dog lives in a flat or has a garden, it’s essential to take him out several times a day. This is true for all breeds and types of dog, regardless of size. 

There is no such thing as a ‘stay at home dog’, a dog that doesn’t need to be taken out.  All dogs need the physical exercise and mental stimulation that they get from walks - there are no exceptions. 

Taking your dog out isn’t solely related with his need to urinate or defecate. 

A walk is much more than this: it’s your dog’s chance to connect with the outside world, develop his sense of smell, exercise his mind when he comes into contact with all sorts of stimuli, meet other dogs, and of course stay fit by getting physical exercise. 

Walking your dog gives him:

  • Physical well-being
  • Psychological well-being

That said, not all dogs enjoy walks equally. At times, behaviour problems related to fear or aggression towards other dogs or people can undermine the quality of walks.  In these cases it’s necessary to address the source of the problem with the help of a canine ethologist. 

Quantity vs quality

What counts isn’t so much how often you take your dog out each day, or how long for - it’s more a question of the quality of those walks. 

A quality walk is one that the dog enjoys, where he relaxes and gets both the physical and psychological exercise that he needs. 

Take note of the following recommendations:

  • Make sure that your dog is relaxed when he leaves the house. 
  • Give him the chance to explore his surroundings: even if you walk him on a lead, let him sniff around.
  • Take him to places he likes.
  • If your dog gets on well with other dogs, let him play with them and socialise with them. 
  • Take advantage of walks to reward him for good behaviour. 
  • Adapt the pace of the walk depending on your dog’s age and health.
     

Walk your dog without him pulling on his lead 

Walking your dog should always be an enjoyable experience, but at times things can get complicated, and for different reasons it can become a sort of push-me-pull-you where nobody’s having much fun. 

In order to solve the problem it’s essential to identify what it is that’s stopping your dog from having a quiet walk, and then find an effective solution. 

If your dog pulls at his lead on his walks, it could be for one of these reasons: 

  • He’s frightened of stimuli present in his surroundings: some dogs who are naturally nervous or who haven’t been effectively socialised could be frightened of traffic, people, etc.
  • He doesn’t get on with other dogs: walking a dog who is aggressive towards other dogs can be very difficult.
  • He’s over excited because he wants to get to the park as quickly as possible: this often happens with very young, or very active dogs.
  • He’s a puppy: it’s natural for puppies to pull on their leads, because they’re busy exploring, and discovering the world.
  • He feels insecure because he's in a place that he's not familiar with. 

Once you’ve identified the reasons your walks with your dog are such an ordeal, you’ll be able to solve the problems: 

  • If your dog is very nervous or is aggressive, the best thing to do is to contact a canine ethologist who will be able to analyse the situation. Each case is different, and it’s not possible to come up with a one-size-fits-all solution. 
  • If your dog always gets over excited, you need to start working on exercises to help him to relax before his walks, as well as more generally in his daily life.  

How to calm your dog down

There are people who have either a nervous or a calm disposition, and it’s just the same for dogs. Age is also a factor that influences temperament.

If your dog is young, or jittery by nature, our advice is to start an exercise plan to help him to improve his self-control. This will not only have a positive effect during walks, but on daily life in general. 

Here you have some easy exercises that can help: 

  • Ask him to sit or lie down, and then reward him. Gradually increase the length of time between command and reward. And only reward him when he's calm. 
  • When you call your dog to take him for a walk, make sure you do so in a relaxed way, so that you communicate a sense of calm, and don’t open the door until you see that he's relaxed too. Repeat this as often as you need to, so that he understands that he won’t get a reward for barking, jumping etc. Be patient and persevere - it might take you a while to convince him. 
  • Use the same logic in other daily situations where your dog gets over excited, or keeps insisting on getting his own way. 
Walking dogs

During the walk

One strategy that almost always works when you want to tell your dog that he mustn’t pull on his lead, is to stop walking each time you feel tension on the lead, and to call him back to your side. Once he complies, start walking again. 

For this to work, you need to keep at it - don't give up. 

At the same time you can use an anti-pull harness when walking your dog: it won’t hurt your four-legged friend, and this type of lead is generally very effective.  

Avoid spike or choke collars because they are harmful to your dog's health, and furthermore they’re banned by law in many autonomous communities.

And do remember to take some treats with you to reward your dog, as long as he behaves well. Either a treat or a scratch behind the ears is a great reward, one that you can always have up your sleeve. 

 

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