Tips for a Smoother Walk

You take your dog out for daily walks, but who's really walking who? Are they pulling you down the sidewalk? Are you constantly having to pull them because they stop every two feet to sniff something? 

My dog is close to a hundred pounds and has some anxiety issues, so walks can sometimes be challenging. Thankfully there are a few tips and tricks I've picked up along the way to make walks more pleasant for both of us.

We did not do training classes with this dog (pandemic puppy), but we have with a previous one and I've been trying to refresh my memory by watching videos and reading articles. There are a number of dog trainers who offer helpful tips online. Here are a few I've picked up.

Leash Length

Do not use a retractable or extra long length for walks. Your dog should be walking next to you with a loose leash, but too much length can encourage them to wander.


This is one I currently use every time we go out. Your pup should be following your lead when you are walking to know when to change directions or stop. To help your dog practice this, while they are on leash walk in a zig-zag or circle, or some way where you are freqently changing direction. You can do this inside before you start your walk, or if they are pulling too much any time during walk as well.

Sniff Breaks

Your dog should not be stopping at every bush, light pole, or fire hydrant to sniff; unless that's what you want. When they start to stop tell them "leave it" (or whatever command you use) and keep walking. You decide when and if they get to stop. Remember walks are usually for exercise not for your dog to catch up on the latest neighborhood gossip.

Positive Reinforcement

When your dog follows a command you've given it's a good idea to follow-up with some positive reinforcement. This doesn't have to be a treat, simply telling them they are a good dog or giving them a small scratch behind the ears to acknowledge that they did well; and this helps reinforce the behavior you want them to do.

Situational Awareness

There are lots of things out there that can distract or stress your dog. If you see something that you know is going to cause a distraction or issue, start giving your "leave it" command as soon as your dog notices it; don't wait to get right up to it. This may be a good time to do a quick zig-zag or circle to get their attention back to you.
Also be alert for bikes and scooters going too fast down the sidewalk, or large groups of people that may make your dog nervous. It may be worth it to cross the street or at least move so that you are between your dog and the potential stressor.

Every dog is different, but these tips should work for most. If you are still having problems I highly recommend reaching out to a trainer in your area or at least watching some of their videos online. It will take some practice, and patience, but before you know it you will both be looking forward to your daily walks.

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