Swimming, hiking, cycling, running, walking.
Dogs need exercise, which affords us the perfect time to sneak in some training.
Daily walks where you vary up the expectations will produce a dog who knows how to walk politely on his leash. And people will notice.
When Bernie and I are out in public, I've had numerous people comment positively on his loose-leash walking, and some even ask how I trained him to walk so nicely. I usually respond simply with "Practice," but our practice is intentional.
Take daily walks
When you walk your dog every day, everybody wins. You both get some exercise and fresh air. You can easily work in some training, which means your dog will be both physically and mentally tired, a good thing.
The one day a week where I forego the daily walk is the day the pups go to doggie daycare. They're so tired after running around with their pals that I take advantage of that evening and catch up on other life tasks.
Skills to practice out on walks
- Walking on a loose-leash without pulling, of course!
- Turning left
- Turning right
- Walking with your dog on either side of you
- Walking at different paces: fast and slow
- Walking up and down stairs nicely
- Waiting for and taking an elevator
- Walking around things like pillars, signs, statues, and people
- Stopping and asking your dog to sit or settle into a down
- Stopping and asking your dog to look at you
Real world distractions truly test your dog's ability
If you merely train while you're in your home, backyard, or obedience class, your dog will have a harder time applying the cues in other settings.
When you're out for a walk with your dog, you want distractions to test the skills your dog has demonstrated in more controlled environments. You don't want multiple distractions happening all at once right from the start. You don't want to overwhelm your dog, but if you can take advantage of isolated distractions and work your way to adding in more distractions, your dog will be even better trained.
If your usual walk takes you past a shopping center, office complex, or other buildings, don't be shy about letting your dog sniff around those areas.
Distractions are everywhere:
- Street noises
- Sirens or horns
- Construction sounds
- Delivery trucks
- Garbage pick up
- Snow or leaf blowers
- Shopping carts
- Automatic doors
- Mood music
- Live music, which probably includes clapping
- Restaurant noises
- Cyclists or runners