3 Tips for Giving the Best Dog Walk Possible
Updated: Jul 8, 2020
At Simply Yours Concierge, we take our responsibility of providing impeccable pet care very seriously. Setting ourselves apart from other dog walking and pet sitting professionals is important, and we do so by ensuring the dogs in our care have the best walk possible. This means providing for all of a dog’s mental and behavioral needs. With some extra effort, we delight our canine friends and instill good walking behavior and positive association. After all, whether a walk is a success should be based on the dog’s point of view! A dog is not just looking for a workout, but mental stimulation, and the freedom to express their natural instincts.
Here are three ways our team gives your dogs the best walk possible.
#1: Embrace sniff and explore time
Unlike humans, who are mostly visual, dogs experience the world through their noses. Their sense of smell is at least 10,000 times more powerful than ours due to millions of more scent receptors in their noses and a proportionately much larger part of their brains dedicated to analyzing smells. Their noses also have a special organ that allows them to perceive chemical signals that would otherwise be undetectable. It’s almost impossible to imagine the amount of information dogs can discover with one sniff.
Just as you might want to look at the scenery on a walk, a dog will want to smell all that the environment has to offer. They can learn about other dogs in the neighborhood, track squirrels, and find the best places to go to the bathroom. Having them heel for the entire walk or pulling them away from every hydrant is like having to return a gripping mystery novel to the library before you find out whodunit. Allowing a dog time to sniff and explore prevents frustration and boredom, makes the walk an enriching experience and provides important mental exercise, which can be just as exhausting as the physical kind.
But our whole walk isn’t be spent at a single shrub. We give your dog a chance to explore as a reward for a short burst of loose leash walking or heeling. This will ensure a balanced walk. Meeting all the dog’s needs and teaching them that walking nicely pays off will make future walks easier.
#2: Don’t rush bathroom breaks.
Dog bathroom behavior is not just about eliminating waste, it’s about communication, too. Dogs use urine as a calling card, letting the world know where they have been. In turn, smelling the urine left by other dogs tells them about their canine community. Thanks to that amazing sense of smell, a dog can determine details like the sex, age, and health of his neighbors. Sometimes called pee-mail, this is like social media for dogs. Where you might check your phone for the latest post, a dog wants to check the popular pee spots to keep up on the local gossip.
This is another reason to allow dogs plenty of time to sniff and explore during a walk. Going to the bathroom means more than looking for a bare patch of grass. Finding the perfect spot is essential for gathering information and adding their own deposit to the conversation. Some dogs also like to scratch the ground with their feet to emphasize their message. All this sniffing and scratching takes time and concentration.
Having them eliminate at the beginning of the walk or in a certain area can be very convenient. To teach them a potty cue yourself, watch for signs that your dog is about to go, then say the cue right before they eliminate and reward them once their done. After several repetitions, they will understand what you are asking and will know that if they follow your request, they will get a treat or other reward for their trouble.
#3: Keep the leash loose.
You have no doubt noticed that dragging a dog along the sidewalk can be counter-productive. They will either dig in and refuse to move or pull you the other way. They aren’t being stubborn or controlling, they're simply doing what comes naturally. If you pull on a dog’s leash, they will instinctively pull away in the opposite direction.
Dogs also pull on the leash because humans walk too slowly, and they want to get to the fun stuff, such as an interesting smell or another dog. However, if pulling you along gets a dog where they want to go, they learn that it works. This leads to a leash tug-of-war. The more you allow a dog to drag you, the more ingrained their bad habit will become; the more you drag the dog, the more they will pull back. Unless you rely on equipment like a head halter, you are looking at a struggle every time you walk that dog, and the behavior will not improve.
The recipe for polite leash manners is simple— only let the dog walk when the leash is loose. This might mean standing still when the dog is pulling and only moving forward when they come back to check on you, letting the leash fall slack, or changing direction every time they get ahead of you. You can use treats to reward the dog when they turn to catch up or let the chance to walk be its own reward. Your first few walks might be slow and frustrating, but eventually, the dog will learn that they only get to walk when the leash is loose. This will eliminate pressure on the dog’s throat, ease their frustration, and prevent you from triggering a tug-of-war. Your job will become easier and your dogs will be gaining a valuable new skill.
By providing walks that incorporate these tips, we meet all the needs of the dogs in our care and will be giving clients a truly complete service. We always give our dogs important physical exercise but will also meet their mental and behavioral needs. With the little extra effort that we provide, we contribute to better behavior as well. Your dogs will return home both physically and mentally exhausted and delighted by their time out with us. A happy dog equals a happy owner and client!
Setting ourselves apart from the competition as a professional dog walker who does far more than simply walk the dog.
Have a happy and fun day!
In addition to walks, Simply Yours Concierge provides dog sitting and cat sitting services to the community in Middlesex County, as well as parts of Mercer and Somerset county. This includes live-in overnight pet care and house sitting!
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We can't wait to meet your pet!