We should be able to present ourselves with a simple look to dog as calm assertive leader requiring that she is calm submissive follower. This puts them on alert. We're either disagreeing with their current state of mind or behavior, or we want their attention so we can communicate new instructions. If we can't do this in the humdrum of our own homes, we most certainly will be challenged with attempting this in the outside world.
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When a guest arrives at the front door, it is the dog's job to bark-bark-bark telling the family that someone is here. But once you get to the door, you should be able to clock your pup off the job with ease, with her giving guest 5 feet of respectful space and letting you vs. her claim ownership of the guest.
And your pup is welcome to look out the window to enjoy the passing world, but not to issue ferocious barks which tell passers by that this is his cave. Until he pays the rent or mortgage, you own and claim the cave and all which is in it.
These behaviors need to be mastered before the walk can be enjoyable and your pup is in the appropriate relaxed frame of mind. Otherwise your pup will be on the job of protecting you and claiming territory when out on the walk. Get our help! Sign up now for Denver Dog Whisperer Home Behavior Consult. One 3 hour session is all that's needed for 999 out of 1000.
Think in terms of having calm seas, predictably creating around 5 tidal waves of excitement, and then taking the dog back to calm after each tsunami. Present calm assertive leadership after each excitement spike, don't proceed until your dog becomes calm, submissive, respectful (does not mean going into a sit!). It doesn't matter if this takes half an hour and you only have 35 minutes. How you leave the home is critical to enjoying a successful walk. It gets easier, faster every time. Predictable excitement spikes:
As you leave the home, do not let dog bolt ahead of you like "all bets are off now!" You own the threshold, driveway, stairs. Keep dog at your side.
The leash/slip lead/training collar should be worn high on the neck, just below the ears. The communication comes from our brain down our arm, through the leash, straight to the dog's brain (like the reins with a horse). The leash isn't meant as a hang man with a physical tug of war. It should have an inch or so of slack so that the dog can stay relaxed with the feeling of being off leash. But the second she falls out of formation, we give a light upward flick of our wrist to communicate to her that it is her job to stay in formation.
If you pull sideways, the dog tends to stretch the rubber band in the opposite direction. Always flick upward, like she's a proud AKC beauty (the more the mutt, the better!).
Don't think of yourself as being part of the environment. Think that you OWN the environment, along with every person and dog in it. Be confidently friendly towards other people, acknowledge other dogs without creating excitement in them. You are the king/queen. The rock star. Mother earth/mother nature. Dogs naturally respect, trust and follow calm assertive energy. Feeling safe and secure with their leader is love for a dog, not the humanizing coddling that we humans tend to drown our dogs in.
Whomever is in front is the decision maker, the leader. Period. Do not let your dog even put a nose length in front of your knees. This means nothing to you, but the world to your dog. And the behaviors on the walk will be radically different with these inch differences! Remember to stay calm and relaxed. Breathe. Enjoy the beauty of the great outdoors. Don't crook or tense up your arm. Keep it limp, relaxed like cooked pasta. This is the beauty of the spirit which your dog needs.
The "heel" command (walk on my left side) came from war times when the soldiers carried a musket in their right arm and had the dog on their left. This obviously doesn't relate today, and there are three good reasons for walking the dog on both sides:
Your dog knows when you are avoiding. He reads that you are stressed and tense, and assigns risk to the other people/dogs as a result. He does not interpret that he is a jerk on the walk, and that you are trying to avoid uncomfortable embarrassing situations where you may even loose control of him with potential harm to others. You need to view these interactions as OPPORTUNITIES and STEER TO THEM instead of away from. Need our help?
If walking your pup has been a challenge, you're going to be nervous and insecure. Use the back yard if you have one and home to practice. Remember that even if off lead, dog never goes in front of you through doors, hallways, staircases. Relax. Leadership energy is strong, assertive, calm, peaceful. Weakness is stress, anxiety, nervousness, rushing, insecurity, distrust.
We earn leadership stature with love, trust, respect and consistency plus meeting our dog's needs on a daily basis.
You're the runway model vamping down the red carpet. Relax your arms like limp pasta, like your normal walk. Breathe. Get your walk, stride, relaxation in check before you think about your dog. Then add the dog mentally like he's your Gucci bag, an accessory but not a piece of fragile china. The only time you stop is with that purposeful sideways pull that tells you it's bathroom time.
A big back yard isn't heaven for a dog. It's his/her bathroom.
Mastering the Walk is the quickest way for righting an upside down pack hierarchy. In nature, the smartest/quickest/wisest/strongest/most adept dog in the family pack is the leader. And he is the only decision maker as the pack travels to hunt, eradicate intruders, drink and rest. Your job is to be calm assertive leader, your pup's is as the calm submissive follower who takes every cue from you. He's the groupie, you're the rock star!
@DenverDogWhisperer Since 1994