Having lived in Ohio with a large fenced in yard; there was never really a need to “walk” my dog for exercise. This yard was great for playing ball, digging holes and just plain running around. Sure, I would occasionally work on “heeling’ since we competed in dog sports and needed to heel from point A to point B but other than that we were out of control. Normally that would get us out of the car and into the vet’s office or dog training center safely without any serious injuries. Going out for a nature “walk” was out of the question. My dog Jackson would pull and jerk so much that his name turned into “Jesus Jack”
Knowing that I would be moving to Texas with a much smaller yard and a nice neighborhood to take walks in. I made a promise to myself and the boys that we would be the ones out there walking on a loose leash. That people would be admiring us and giving us thumbs up and high fives as we walked by. Yeah, we would be that cool.
Truth be told, I have made a lot of mistakes along my way to my loose leash walker status. I have also made a lot of good progress by learning from these mistakes. Most of these mistakes were lack of communication or rather going too far and expecting too much too soon.
Patience is a Virtue “These are the rules, pup, I will not pull and drag you and you will not pull and drag me. If you start to pull. I will wait for a soft loose leash before moving." On occasion he may even offer eye contact to find out why I are not moving in the direction he is pulling. Because of course to them, they pull; we follow. I call him back to me and reward with forward movement which is in fact all he wanted to begin with. Most importantly I want to build our relationship and that it is a walk we will take together. Wherever we go, we will go together.
Environment is ever changing. Keeping in mind to us; the outdoors could be sunny, cold, or wet with rain on cool evening. But to a dog, it is so much more. The smells of the fresh cut grass, dirt, mulch, leaves blowing or the scent of another dog that might have passed by. The sights and smells can be so overwhelming that sometimes we fail to exist to them. Same driveway, different day, different sights and smells. Patience is a virtue. Wherever we go, we will go together.
Do not be afraid to change direction. Always be aware of your dog’s surroundings and be your dogs advocate. Look ahead as you progress past your driveway. Is there a person walking their dog? A child playing ball? Someone out for a run? Keep in mind our dog is trying is best to keep it together. Ask yourself if your dog will be successful walking past these distractions. If you are uncertain, change direction. Be successful, and you will go farther in building that trusting relationship with your dog. That you would not put him in a situation he might not been able to handle. They are aware of what is ahead and they assessing if it is safe or not for them. Build trust. Wherever we go, we will go together.
I have had some magical moments. You might have seen my husband and I walking our two Weimaraners around the block as you drove past us. He takes Parker while Gibson and I trail behind them. Sometimes we get further behind and that is okay because we are learning that together we will get there.
Wherever we go, we will go together.