Springbrook_iStock_000040645364_MediumJanuary is all about canines as we celebrate National Walk Your Pet Month and National Train Your Dog Month. And, for those of you who have tried to walk an untrained dog on a leash, the connection between these two themes is clear.

Training is an essential part of your puppy and adult dog’s life, encouraging his or her wellbeing, socialization, and safety. Like basic obedience training, properly walking your dog on a leash can be enhanced with initial training classes to help teach you the techniques to walk your dog with confidence and ease.

Dog Walking: Start with the Basics

If your dog is new to leash walking or basic commands, you may want to consider professional training classes before you make the leap to daily dog walking. Group classes will give you and your dog a chance to suss out his or her response to strange humans and dogs as well as aptitude for commands. Your dog should know and respond to verbal commands such as stay, sit, and drop it. He or she should also be able to calmly encounter other dogs, cats, wildlife, and people without chasing, jumping on, or exhibiting other behaviors that are inappropriate or destructive.

If you fear your dog’s response and your ability to control a potentially aggressive or excitable interaction, it will be safer for your dog and other animals if you opt for training classes before venturing out into the world. After all, dogs require daily exercise and socialization. A few weeks of puppy or intermediate classes is a minimal investment when you consider the lifetime of enjoyment he or she will get on those walks to the park.

Winter is a great time to help your dog practice loose leash walking, since walks are typically kept shorter and the likelihood of encountering other dogs is reduced. For a refresher on basic leash walking techniques, you may wish to refer back to our blog A Perfect Stroll: Techniques for Walking Your Dog like a Pro. Oh, and don’t forget to bundle up your dog on those cold days with a jacket designed for winter conditions!

Dog Walking Etiquette

Once your dog is leash walking like a pro, you may want to start visiting the busier parks. Be a responsible dog owner by following these canine courtesies:

  • Pick up after your dog – nothing spoils anyone’s day more than stepping in poo.
  • Keep favorite toys and treats your dog is tempted to guard at home to avoid potential fights or aggression.
  • Before allowing your dog to approach another dog, ask the owner if it is OK and if the dog is friendly.
  • Supervise your dog and discourage him or her from becoming “overbearing” with other dogs, especially young puppies, senior dogs, and smaller dogs.
  • Make sure your pet is parasite-free and healthy, and all vaccinations are current before exposing him or her to other pets.

A Reminder About Retractable Leashes

Flexi-leads or retractable leashes are widely sold, yet pose serious risks to pets and their owners.  Some of the risks associated with these leads to your pet include: entanglement, strangulation, escape due to the cord breaking, and other accidents because of the uncontrolled length of the leash. Humans have also sustained injuries, including burns, cuts, and eye and tooth injuries caused by the sudden release of the cord, collar, or other broken parts.

  • We recommend a sturdy 4-6 foot flat leash for better control and to maintain your safety and the safety of your pet and other pedestrians.

If you are seeking ways to improve your dog’s leash skills or simply need a refresher course on basic commands and social skills, please check out Springbrook Animal Care Center’s upcoming dog training classes or call us to inquire about future sessions. And, don’t let National Walk Your Pet Month go by without getting out for walk!