Building Your Relationship With Your Dog - The On-leash Walk
As a young dog walker just starting out, I had to make a decision: did I want to focus on the off-leash walk, or the on-leash walk?
The answer to that question came from my experiences with my dog, Duke. I found that if we spent too much time off-leash and not enough time on-leash, our relationship deteriorated. Drastically. So, naturally, I chose to focus on the on-leash walk with my clients.
What is it about the on-leash walk that supports a healthy relationship with your dog?
In my eyes, these are the signs of a proper on-leash walk:
- The leash is always loose
- The dog walks beside or behind the walker
- Potty break stops are limited to only 3-6 times in an hour walk
- The dogs body language is relaxed and without tension.
As I see it, performing the on-leash walk properly helps nearly everything, but here are 3 specific things:
1. Awareness: If you watch your dog while they are walking properly on-leash, they will constantly be checking in with you using their eyes and ears. On the flip side, you also have to be aware of your dog and your surroundings. The walk is an excellent exercise in mutual awareness.
2. Respect and Trust: When you walking your dog on-leash, you are providing the vital exercise your dog needs as well setting strict rules and boundaries as to how that exercise should be performed (loose leash etc). When you are able to enforce these rules consistently, your dog will gain respect for you. On the flip side, If you see your dog respecting your boundaries and checking in with you often, you will probably start trusting your dog more.
3. Bonding: The act of performing an activity together, especially one as primal as walking, is such a strong bonding exercise. You know how companies will have team building exercises? I think of the walk as Pet-Owner team building. (Escape room anyone?)
I cannot stress enough how important these building blocks are to your relationship with your dog. Through my experiences with your dogs as well as mine, I can say that the on-leash walk is one of the best ways to build a healthy foundation.
As always, Happy Trails
Holly, Duke and Jax