Problems during walks are among the most common complaints I hear from dog owners. But the thing that they all have in common is that most dog walking problems are casued by what I call BOHS, or Bad Owner Handling Skills. This occurs when owners communicate the wrong thing to their dogs by keeping their leashes tight when they encounter distractions such as other dogs. The owner’s anxiety travels down the leash to the dog – and the dog reacts with anxiety.

Instead of getting anxious and sending tension down the leash, try this when confronted with a problem while walking your dog.

  1. If he begins pulling on his leash, simply stop. Become immovable until he stops pulling and allows some slack in the leash.
  2. The minute there is slack in the leash, praise your dog and begin walking again. Continue your walk until the dog starts pulling again, stop dead in your tracks once again.
  3. Remain neutral. Wait for slack, praise.
  4. Sometimes, if you simply stop, change your direction and start walking, your dog will have to stop pulling and try to catch up with you going in the other direction. This strategy will also teach your dog to pay attention to you when you walk.
  5. Do not let your dog go sniff and investigate whatever he wants. You must control the walk.

The solution is to learn to walk your dog on a slack leash and check your anxiety at your front door before the walk. Be confident in your handling skills and read your dog. Like kids, dogs respond to leadership, so be as comfortable with the trainer of your do as you are with the teacher of your children. And remember, “Opportunity Barks!”

(C) Jim Burwell 2011