Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sensei, Coach and Master

In a previous One Leash, One Mind, Doggie Sensei spoke about how the proximity of your doggie during your walk or run is very important. You will want to establish an awareness of where your dog is so that you can anticipate the situations where she / he may need guidance. This can prevent them from getting hurt or injuring other pets.

Photo Credit: Yersinia
With a shorter leash of 6 feet in length you will be able to keep your companion by your side. It's important that you lead them, and at first a new doggie will have some resistance to this. There are many schools of thought whether verbal commands should be taught first, or if you should physically take the lead. For walking, it may be best that you consider using your body and movement as the guide since this will teach your doggie that they should pay attention to what you are doing. The more focused they can be on where you're going, the less likely they will be distracted by squirrels, other dogs, garbage, noises, cars, kids, etc.

When you move chose the direction and just go. No warning, just move. If your doggie is new to you and this routine, they'll bump into you at first and that's ok. This process will teach them about the comfortable distance they need to walk with you. You'll note that you will be giving them the cues - for them to follow means they have to pay attention to where you go. In other words, they'll learn to follow you as the leader. To re-enforce this relationship you will have to walk your dog every day. Yes, every day.

Eventually you will notice that the dog will be in tune with your directions, your movements when you walk. You'll also find it will be easier to control them when you encounter other dogs. When you maintain their position at your side, you'll be able to sense when they start to tense and you can intervene and gently remind them that they should remain by your side, and be relaxed. It's a very rewarding and friendly relationship you will have and that others will recognize.


Lindsay said...

It's great to reach that point where my dog and I are in tune and he just follow without either of us really thinking about it. I noticed a lot more now that I've been taking him biking with me and have to be more aware of where he is. But he just follows along as usual. Going at a faster pace helps too. He is much better at heeling when we run versus when we walk.

Doggie Sensei said...

That's great to hear that he transitioned to biking. Unfortunately Missy was mis-treated before we rescued her, and has a fear of bicycles. When we're running together she doesn't have the time to really notice when they pass.

One thing that I've started during our warm down is to keep her at my side as well. She get's her break for sniffing and / or bathroom, but I keep her in heel for about 2 minutes. My idea is that even though her mind might be still in racing mode, I want her to be able to respond. It's working pretty well.