Can I Train My Dog on a Walk?
The simple answer to this is yes. I do it all the time because my dude loves outings and is always excited by them so it is an ideal time to make training fun. Even a simple walk around the block gives ample opportunities to participate in some simple training challenges.
When we head out for “tatties” (our code word for a walk) I always ensure my dude has some personal time to sniff, explore and go potty on a loose leash. I call this his “social media time” or "pee-mail" because it allows him to catch up on what the other local pups have been doing . It is important for him to do this because approximately one-third of a dogs brain is dedicated to olfaction, therefore a good sniff-fest is only fair because it is what dogs do!
Keep Things Light
Keeping things fun and light heated is important so I can throw some training into the mix which can reinforce fundamentals and some more advanced training. Between short training sessions I let him relax with more sniffing.
Practice a Quick Response When You call Your Dog's Name
This is especially important if your dog is new to you. When he responds and looks at you, reward him on the fly as you keep moving, or back up a couple of steps encouraging your pup toward you, then deliver several small treats (one after the other rather than a handful at once), with plenty of praise and petting.
Walking to Heal
This includes sitting when I stop, and starting as I do is another fun game. Sometimes I walk fast, then slow down. I use my voice as I teach him this skill so that he learns to vary his pace with my step and voice, and with practice he automatically matches his pace with mine. I like this game because I have a friend who likes to walk him and she is not quite as quick on her pins as I am, but Jackson likes to go out with her because every dog loves tatties and a smell-fest.
When we are out walking there are times when I don’t want my pup stopping and sniffing, when I anticipate this about to happen I say “Leave It” and 90% of the time he does. This is a good command because it can be applied to anything; next doors cat, a stinky carcass, or hot potato I just dropped on the kitchen floor. This command can be practiced almost anywhere and is a useful generic direction.
This is one skill that can always be worked on whether your pup is a beginner or master blaster. Frequently people presume you need a long leash to do this, however I find a regular 6 foot leash is adequate and always available. The hardest part of recall is not the distance the dog travels to the handler, but choosing to leave that exciting distraction to return to the handler. I always use my happy voice and make sure it sounds like there is a lot more fun where I am, rather than where he is. Treats, such as K9CRACK Beef Liver is always a good lure too!
I Have One of Those Water/Mud Resistant Leashes
Having a water/mud resistant leash is extremely handy, especially when we see one of our canine friends and they want to play. I can drop the leash while they both run around and frolic together. Then when its time to stop, if he doesn’t come immediately, I can grab the leash.
I have a pup that is only very rarely off his leash in public because his nose will lead him astray (he is a Beagle/German Shepard mix), and we got him from the hound-pound where he was used to running a large property. However, he has no problems being leash trained because we always have lots of fun running, hiking, training and playing together. He associates the leash with tatties, outings and interesting jaunts with his hoomans.
Finding a happy median for both you and your pup is part of your life’s journey together and short walks can always be an opportunity for you both to enhance your partnership.