Thank Goodness the weather has started to relax its Winter Grip and Spring is in sight! Let’s start to think about peeling off those long johns and getting some color back into our faces…
I know there are a LOT of dogs who are really excited that their owners are stirring from hibernation and starting to think about the Great Outdoors again.
So, in the Spirit of Spring, I am going to offer some simple ways to get your dogs back into the program before they tear off down the street in excitement, dragging you along behind them!!!
Most people think of their dog walk as a time to relax, stretch, get some exercise and breathe the fresh air…This is certainly true but there are hidden opportunities in this daily ritual that may surprise even really committed dog owners!
Everything starts to get a little crazy when the leash comes out…
I know it is hard to put a collar and leash on a bouncing beach ball but this is the first step on the road to a mutually rewarding experience. Stand with the leash in your hand and WAIT until your dog is STILL. This may only be a second or two but the moment he stops leaping and wriggling, reach forward to attach the leash. If he recommences, step back and WAIT. Do not look at him, touch him, beg him to desist or get irritated. (It might be a good idea to put aside several minutes for this part of the program.) He does NOT get his leash attached if he is not still.
Once (Hooray!) he has his leash attached, walk quietly towards the front door. Once you reach the door, WAIT.
Positioning your pogo stick, sorry, dogfriend on your left you will open the door and walk through the door FIRST. (Perhaps we will do this a few times until Fido gets fed up with having the door shut again).
Now we are OUTSIDE!!! Woohoo!!! Do not try to put your dog on a tight leash and ask him to “heel” you are both going to have a hard time controlling all that energy…So Don’t. Instead, use a long line or several leashes together to give him enough room to move around and stretch his legs, even if he moves around you in circles, he is using up calories and will soon settle down into the rhythm of the expedition.
Pick up as brisk a pace as you can and move along without talking to him or taking his behavior personally…
Once you have been walking for about five minutes, only checking him with the leash if he is pulling in any direction, you can start to gradually shorten your line so that it is half as long for another five minutes, then shorten again in half for another five minutes then shorten all the way to your side for One minute then release all the way and start the exercise again.
Your walk is now the training ground for a nice loose leash heel and you are not only exercising your dog and yourself but you are building a working relationship, forging a bond between you and thinking about something other than the details of your life!!!
This way, your “around the block” walk will start to prepare you for a lovely Greenbrier River Trail Ramble.
To finish the experience, we will reenter the house in a decorous manner, in front of your dog, wait, quietly until he is sitting before removing the leash and prepare for a lovely cup of tea while your student naps on the floor beside you!!
By The Way, it may take a few sessions to get this ritual down but you will be amazed at how quickly your dog gets the picture…
And if you do not have anywhere to walk outside your house, load your dog into the car and using the same rules, take him to the Fairgrounds in Fairlea where you can practice without fear of being run over!!! We have been out there in the mud, sleet and freezing rain all Winter and are so happy that we will be seeing you folks again now the sun is out!!! HAHAHA
– Janine Lazarus, HashtagWV #111. March 2019. Follow Janine on instagram @goodladd_dogtraining and hire her at Goodladd.net!