January is Train Your Dog Month and Walk Your Dog Month! Even though that may sound like a bit much to fit all into one month, you can combine both activities to make each more fun than they would be on their own. I’ve decided to combine the two for myself and my dogs by putting a twist on the idea of a “fitness trail.” I’m going to add “obedience stations” to my usual dog-walking route. That way, my dog gets mental exercise along with our usual physical exercise.
How to train while you walk your dog:
The Loose-Leash Transit
This will be what we practice as we walk your dog from one station to the next. I’ll use change-of-direction and stop-and-go exercises, along with verbal communication and lots of food rewards. I won’t be asking for a strict “heel” position—just no pulling on the leash.
The Sit Station
At the first curve of the walking trail, I’ll stop and ask my dog to sit. Because there’s a yard with a barking dog nearby, I’ll make sure to make myself more interesting by offering more tasty food rewards.
The Down Station
At the second curve, we’ll stop, and I’ll ask my dog for a down. He isn’t a fan of lying down on hard surfaces, so we’ll take it nice and slow… and use more food rewards.
The Settle Station
On the bench along the path, I’ll have a seat and ask my dog to settle. All this means is that he needs to sit nicely while watching the world go by. Because that world is full of things that move quickly and smell interesting, I’ll keep using more food rewards to encourage him to hang out calmly for a bit.
The Focus Station
By the pond, we’ll take a moment to work on focus. There are ducks and geese that can be loud, so I’ll use my handy-dandy food rewards and keep up a stream of verbal communication to help my dog maintain his focus on me.
The Stay Station
When we get back to the car, we’ll work on a sit-stay before getting back in and going home. I wait until the end to practice this, so my dog is already a little tired. I won’t ask him to hold the stay for too long since I want to end our training walk on a positive note. I’ll give him food rewards during his stay, as well as at the end of it. I’ll maintain my focus on him and not increase my distance from him since there are still plenty of distractions around.
What are your favorite training games to play while you walk your dog? What other stations do you think would be beneficial to your pup along with his training walks? Did you know that Guthrie Pet Hospital offers obedience classes and can help with any behavioral problems your dog might be having? Contact us today for your appointment.