Pack Leadership Technique 2 reminds us to provide exercise, discipline, and affection in that order. And the absolute best way to provide exercise and discipline for your dog is through the walk.
To make the walk productive and bonding, you have to be the leader. This means that you’re in front, not your dog. It helps to use a short leash with the collar up at the top of the dog’s neck, where you have the most control. Keep your leash arm down and relaxed, with the leash loose. Don’t grip tightly because that sends tense energy down the leash to your dog.
Avoid harnesses for the walk, because they tend to encourage dogs to pull. And take a pass on any kind of variable-length lead, as these put your dog, not you, in control.
The most important tool for the walk, though, is your calm, assertive energy. It’s a transformative attitude that actually encourages your dog to follow you. This means being fully present for your dog. The walk isn’t a time for texting or chatting on your phone.
Your dog must also be present for you. Sniffing and peeing are rewards your dog needs to earn ‘ so during first part of the walk, keep in constant motion, mimicking the forward movement of the pack in search of food. After establishing a good balance of leadership (you) and calm, submissive walking (your dog), you can relax a bit and let your dog sniff or mark the landscape.
Another skill for mastering the walk is reading other dog walkers from a distance. If their dog is out in front and pulling, and the person’s energy seems anxious with weak and uncertain body language, it’s possible their dog could exhibit some undesired behavior should you meet. It’s better for you and your dog to avoid such encounters.
The walk is the perfect way to give your dog exercise, discipline, and some affection, as well as to establish rules. When you master it, you will have discovered the most rewarding and productive way to improve your relationship with your dog.