Leash Walking – Part 1 of 3

“A good dog never dies. He always stays. He walks besides you on crisp autumn days when frost is on the fields and winter’s drawing near. His head is within our hand in his old way.” 
― Mary Carolyn Davies

Relax…this is supposed to be fun, remember?

 When deciding on whether to get a dog or not, what’s one of the first things on the pro list? Well, having a dog would help me exercise and enjoy the outdoors a little more. This is one of the great benefits to having a canine best friend. You’re never alone in the park or in the neighborhood with your four legged exercise buddy with you.

However, the day dreams of having your dog walk politely next to you while you stroll through the neighborhood is sometimes met with the harsh reality that your dog is much more interested in walking ten feet ahead of you and going after every squirrel that is within a 20 foot radius. Which means, now you’re dreading the daily walk and it’s stressful for both you and your pup. The goal is to make it an enjoyable time for the both of you that allows both of you partake in some activity and bonding.

These daily walks are imperative to taking care of the Activity part of the PAW method. Without them, you won’t have a balanced dog, and you won’t be able to provide a stable physical and mental state for your four legged friend.

 To Walk or Not To Walk

So let’s start at the beginning. The first step to a good walk is the same first step in being an exceptional Pilot. Control yourself and stay calm. Know your limits on the walk. If that means that at first, the distance of your walk is only down your driveway and back, so be it. There’s nothing wrong with that. Pick a distance that you know you can handle. Once you perfect that distance go ahead and go a little longer. Pretend you’re training for a marathon dog walk, you can’t walk the full distance the first day.

When you start the walk, it begins inside the house. You need to make sure you control the situation. The minute you make the decision to go on a walk, is the minute you have started. Handle yourself in a calm and confident manner. This means none of the “Does Fido want to go for a walk? Does he? Does he?”. By creating excitement with your voice, you’re adding energy to the situation. Adding this energy to the situation, means your dog gets more and more amped up that you’re going outside, and you have less and less control over the situation.

Just walkin’ the dog…  Brittany Gram Photography

Never start the walk if your dog is not in a calm state. Just because he’s not jumping around and running laps before you put on his leash, doesn’t mean he won’t have a good time outside. Once in a calm state, open the door. When the door is opened, you will be adding a lot more stimulation to the situation, making sure you are starting off without excess energy is going to be key to your success.

Enter it with a calm and peaceful mind. You are the Zen Master of the walk and walks are absolutely and completely boring. That’s how you want to portray it to your pup. So, deep breaths, grab that leash and start your walk off in a calm and confident manner.

Danica and Porter
Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.

- Saint Francis de Sales


Want more?  Part two of the three-part series can be found here.

Keep calm and pilot on


Danika Migliore
Darwin Dogs
Dog Training in Cleveland, Ohio

10 thoughts on “Leash Walking – Part 1 of 3

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    • Hi Doris -

      That’s why we strongly recommend not using a retractable leash, and making sure that your dog is right next to you. If you are unable to “shut the door”, i.e., swing your body in front of your dog, it’s probably because your dog is far out in front of you. A good rule of thumb is that your dog’s ears should never be past your leg. Hope that answers your question!

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