Walking issues

I have a question about the idea behind dog walking and I didn't want to waylay Bcraig's thread about the dog refusing to walk and what the trainer said.

It seems to me that there are two kinds of walks (I'm stereotyping of course):
1. exercise and obedience training for the dog rolled into one (as per the trainer) making you the master and the dog your obedient servant (the jogger-with-dog falls into this category too) who goes where and as far as the person want to go;
2. treat for the dog to check her/his pee-mail, see what's going on in the neighborhood, and get some exercise while dog has fun, leading to sometimes short walks and sometimes long walks and sometimes no walks.

It seems to me that trainers force us into the first category - the dog must heel directly next to our leg; the dog must not stop or pull away to smell something; the dog must maintain eye contact with us. Obedience training is a most important aspect of a dog's life - I don't really have an issue here - of course there has to be good manners when encountering other people or dogs and we don't want our dogs to run off and get injured. And I agree that "training" walks are important - we are, after all, responsible for providing our dogs with a safe environment.

But doesn't the "rigid" adherence to dog walking behavior contribute to the brain dead dog? Why can't walks (or at least some of them) be fun trips for our dogs?

I do think the dog can still have fun on leash while acknowledging the person doing the walking. I don't insist that my dogs walk on a heel, however I don't want them to think that they're walking me, the leash needs to be loose.
This happens a lot with Riley. He goes on sensory overload and sometimes my voice can't even get his attention, I have to place my hand on him, just touch him, so he remembers I'm there. He is obviously a work in progress.

I would worry that the "just for fun" explore the neighborhood walk would have a negative effect on the serious walks. I don't know that a dog would understand the difference but may just get pretty confused about what you want. Also they do best with a confident consistent leader.

I don't do shows or Rally O so I don't adhere to the heel thing. You have to have that when you are competing in these activities no doubt. My past 2 Basenjis did do it in beginning dog obedience class. But on the street- Forget it! Good luck making a Basenji heel on their walks. My first I never did any training. I don't care about heeling anyway. I see some people jerking their dogs on walks trying to get them to heel and some do heel on street walks. Mine have always walked along pretty good, not heeling but a bit in front of me. I have to walk a very fast pace with Buddy. By the way he and I did terrible in obedience class. He just wanted to play with the other dogs and hated heeling. We would have to take time outs and just sit and watch the class.

I think there are many different things you can do to combine both the obedience/training aspects with the for fun aspects. First off, I agree with Mauigirl that heel position is not necessary for your routine walk around the neighborhood but a loose leash should be, no one enjoys being pulled down the street. That does give you dog some time to sniff and explore but it also puts a limit on the amount. They have until the end of the leash then they need to get moving. This can be an important aspect to walks especially if you have limited time like before work in the morning. Another thing that can be very useful is to train a release word so when you are not so rushed or reach an area where you don't mind taking it at the dog's pace you can release them to be a dog. They should still exercise good manners but they can take their time sniffing and exploring.

One thing is you don't want your dog pulling you like a freight train down the street either. It's not good for the dog and it will wear you out.

True Nobarkus, but you can control that with the gentle leader type harness while still not adhering to the structured "attention on me" walk. I think Lvoss says it well.
Just something I've wondered about. Trainers I've met all seem to adhere to rigid control while on walks.

@wizard:

It seems to me that there are two kinds of walks (I'm stereotyping of course):
1. exercise and obedience training for the dog rolled into one (as per the trainer) making you the master and the dog your obedient servant (the jogger-with-dog falls into this category too) who goes where and as far as the person want to go;
2. treat for the dog to check her/his pee-mail, see what's going on in the neighborhood, and get some exercise while dog has fun, leading to sometimes short walks and sometimes long walks and sometimes no walks.

(…..)

But doesn't the "rigid" adherence to dog walking behavior contribute to the brain dead dog? Why can't walks (or at least some of them) be fun trips for our dogs?

I think I'm somewhere in between your two categories. I walk Tillo for exercise and fun. I decide how long we walk and what route we take, because I want a tired and happy pup when I get home. Tillo isn't allowed to pull the leash, but he doesn't have to heel either. I use an 8 m flex for our normal walks, so if he walks 8 m in front of me, he has 16 m to stand still and sniff.. gg.. If we meet other dogs there is always time to sniff and maybe play off leash. I believe walks should be fun for the dog. I walk Tillo, so he has a good time. 🙂 I don't think he has this on his short training leash walking next to me. When we go cycling, I know he would rather sniff around and play with all the dogs we see. I cycle because I want my pup to have some nice muscles on him (;)) and I want him to be in good condition before I let him course etc. So, that's definitely category 1 😃

As an example: today we walked 2x 1.5 hour. We walked two different routes, so we saw, smelled and met different things/dogs etc. It's pretty hot at the moment, so if Tillo wants a break, we take a break. 🙂 He can chew on a stick and I will just sit in the grass with him. We also met some nice dogs, so he got to play off leash for maybe 30 min. I can see he has sooo much fun at those moments.. 😃

No training walks here.. although it would be good to have them.. :D.. training season is beginning again 😉

1. exercise and obedience training for the dog rolled into one (as per the trainer) making you the master and the dog your obedient servant (the jogger-with-dog falls into this category too) who goes where and as far as the person want to go;

We look at it this way…there will be times that our dog may find it necessary to pull. Sometimes, I'm glad that our B pulls me - sometimes in the opposite direction, because it's one of their ways of showing us what they want and if we read him right, it makes for a safe & fun filled walk with minimal corrections on behalf of human and dog. [this reduces leash rash and sore wrists!].

However, there are situations where having your dog obey all your commands is beneficial [ya riiight, with a B?], so daily training of your pup until it get's 'it' is key, as it's nice to have control of your dog when the need arises. We live in a very touristy part of Mississauga and it's not common to see over 3000+ people & countless dogs during our walks, so the need to have Kairoe slow down, watch me, sit | stay is essential because anyone with a B will know how much attention our dogs garner due to the streams of inquiring minds interested about the dog with a cinnamon bun, ice cream twirl TAIL!

2. treat for the dog to check her/his pee-mail, see what's going on in the neighborhood, and get some exercise while dog has fun, leading to sometimes short walks and sometimes long walks and sometimes no walks.

One thing we like to practice during our evening walks is a semi-loose lead. We start with a sit |stay exercise to let the dog understand that we're still in control of the walk. We begin the walk at a very slow pace, with dog leading until your arm slowly begins to swing upwards and with that free weight of your arm you slowly begin to draw your dog back in as the dog sets the pace. At this point, any correction to slow down is made by slowing the pace of our walking and not with our arm. We find that this is very important as we use it as common ground between us and Kairoe. Sometimes, taking the first 5 minutes of basic sit | stay goes a long way.

I've heard / read that we should never have the dog in front of us, but I do know that having a calm dog whilst walking at night and using the hound nose it was given makes out for a healthier dog and a sane mind as an owner. If Kairoe begins to pull to a point where he's doing that awkward broke back basenji pull, we stop walking and have him do a silent sit until he watches us. After this correction, all other corrections are made by only using the full weight of our arm and slowing the pace down until the dog responds to our arm gently reeling him in [minor or major tug corrections will not work] to a comfort level that works best. The ideal walk is with minimal verbal commands and when the dog begins to respond to the calming weight of your arm while looking back with his cute wrinkley face of "thanks for not pulling so hard…now hurry up, I have to lift in this spot!!"....B's I tell ya!

Emm

She-Ra pulls sometimes on our walks, at which point we stop walking (I'm stronger than she is). Takes her a minute to figure out she's not going anywhere until the leash is loose again, then she stops.

Other than that, as long as the leash isn't tight, we let her go where she wants to go, sniff where she wants to sniff and (within reason) do what she wants to do. If other people start coming into view, we revert to the "Heel" position and go on short leash until they pass us by.

Took us a while to get to that point, but walks are a lot easier than they used to be! 🙂

I always offer my clients a choice. They can train their dog to heel in the same position each time, or they can train their dog to simply be enjoyable to walk with (to pay attention, not pull, not criss-cross in front, or tangle up) So far every single one, scores of clients, have chosen to have a polite walker, not a perfect one. With my own dogs, the only time we work on 'heel' is when we are training for Rally. In the show ring I want them in front a little bit, and on a walk, I want them on the "fun" side of the trail.

Now, they do sometimes forget with the stimulus is overwhelming…squirrel, etc...but usually I can do some attention work with them right away and get them back under control. Those of you who see me walking my dogs at the National will probably laugh...I am bringing my two WORST trained dogs...one is virtually resistant to training, and the other just hasn't had the training time he needs..it will be quite a circus 🙂

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