Staying Calm on the Trail – An Exercise in Leash Walking


Boots and Bee Photography - By Brittany Graham

Boots and Bee Photography – By Brittany Graham

Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned – Buddha

A nice walk through the Metroparks or trails can turn from relaxing to anxiety ridden quickly when you’re dealing with other owners and their dogs on the trails. There are many owners out there that aren’t aware of the dog walking etiquette. You know, the basics, such as not using a retractable leash, not letting their dog come straight up to yours, not taking up the entire path. I’m sure you’ve seen those owners out there.

These situations come up constantly, and it’s important to remember that you will get through them with your dog. The best way to get through these situations is to focus on the Piloting basics.

Boots and Bee Photography - By Brittany Graham

Boots and Bee Photography – By Brittany Graham

1. Control Yourself

So you see a dog on a leash and no owner. Oh wait, no the owner’s there just 10 feet behind the dog. All of a sudden you’re on high alert and frustrated with the other owner. But, the best way to get you and your dog through the situation successfully is to let those feelings of frustration and anxiety go. Your dog will immediately pick up on the energy that you’re feeling. The minute you start to feel anxious, so will your dog. The best way to handle the free willing dog ahead is to be calm and confident. Fake it if you have to, but pretend as though it’s the most boring situation ever and so will your dog. Remember to keep that strong body language and confidence throughout your entire walk. You know what you’re doing! So start believing in yourself!

Boots and Bee Photography - By Brittany Graham

Boots and Bee Photography – By Brittany Graham

 2. Control the Situation

Let’s be honest, you can’t control other people’s stupidity actions. So, focus on what you can control. Your dog. User your instincts and the knowledge that you have of your own dog to judge the situation.

If you feel as though stepping to the side of the trail and placing yourself in between your dog and the oncoming dog is the best solution, then do that!

But if you feel that moving past the situation is the best, then go ahead. Keep on walking past the situation.

No matter what you decide the best course of action is, you need to make sure that you’re following up on the third and final step of Piloting…

Boots and Bee Photography - By Brittany Graham

Boots and Bee Photography – By Brittany Graham

 3. Answer the Yes or No Question

If you choose to use your body as a blocker, start by facing your dog and putting your body in between Fido and the oncoming dog.  When you do this you’re claiming the situation and your dog’s energy. Don’t move forward until your dog has accepted that the other dog is not a threat. The goal is to have your dog focused on anything but the unruly dog coming your way. Once your dog is calm, then move forward again.

If you feel that it is best to move past the situation, focus on your dog and walk him past the oncoming dog. Do not stop or change your pace. Just keep moving forward, you may have to give your dog small tugs to gain his attention again. Before you know it you’ll be past the stressful situation and enjoying your walk again.

You can apply the Piloting steps to any situation you may face on your walks. It’s never fun to encounter another owner who does not know how to control their dog. But, you’ll be able to get past it and soon you’ll be building your confidence along with your dog’s!

Keep calm and pilot on

Danika Migliore
Darwin Dogs, LLC
Dog Training in Cleveland, OH


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>