Semantics are important when it comes to dog training and none more so than the phrase “I’m taking my dog for a walk”.
Taking your dog for a walk has numerous meanings. We are “heading to a particular destination” being the main one.
How many times have you decided you are going for a walk to the park? Or the beach? Round the block? Etc?
Our understanding of walks always starts at a certain place and ends at a different destination.
If you have a young puppy, a nervous, or reactive dog- having a particular destination in mind doesn’t help the dog in front of you. In fact, when you focus on destination based walking- you are more often than not setting your dog up to fail. You are ignoring your pups arousal levels, not noting the fear your dog has at the busy crossing or ignoring your dog’s body language that they are overwhelmed. Why? because your only goal is to get to the park. It’s setting up our dogs to fail.
So, I want you to change your mindset and not focus on destination based walking. I want you to focus on the experience you and your dog are having. Is your dog having a good time? Are they getting anxious? Showing signs of trigger stacking? Finding it hard to concentrate? Etc
Use this knowledge to shape your training schedule, and to change your dogs moments outside from walks to experiences.
If you don’t get past the end of the road for a couple of weeks- that’s ok. It is much better for our dogs to build up those foundations than being thrown in the deep end where they will fail.
For a fat girl, I use a lot of exercise analogies, but this I think is a good one. If your goal is to run the Boston marathon- you don’t start off day 1 running the marathon. You start with running 1 block until you are ready for 2, then 3. You work within your capabilities. Dog training is exactly the same.
Go have an experience with your dog!