Hoofin’ It With Your Dog

The benefits of walking

* All the photographs in the article were taken on one walk with a client. All but the last picture are just some of the stray dogs encountered on this walk. Mind you, we may run in to more strays living in Panama than you would in your part of the world. Both of her dogs (also shown in last photo) were dog aggressive before she started walking.

Are you thinking “Why should I walk my dog when he runs around all day?”

In this article I want to discuss a few of the reasons why you should walk your dog. You won’t believe the benefits. And no, obedience training is not always enough.

Maintaining control of your dog:

I tell people in my training classes, you either have control of your dog or you do not. “Control” does not mean you are a tyrant; it simply means you live in harmony with your dog under all circumstances. Many people tell me they have control of their dog unless it’s distracted or unless it doesn’t feel like it…the reasons go on and on.

Rules of walking:

Don’t let your dog pull on the leash; your dog should remain by your side when walking. This teaches the dog to walk with you instead of on his own out in front of you. Allowing a dog to walk in front of you tells the dog he is in charge of the walk, not you.

I also tell people in my training classes that a walk should be a walk. Not a sniff, not a zig-zag otherwise known as “coursing”. This means if you have to walk in the middle of the street to make it easier for you to keep your dog’s nose up, you do so. Yes, your dog can go potty or investigate on a walk, but only when you allow him to.

Walk with purpose. Head up, shoulders straight, relaxed. The more confident you are on the walk the better your dog will behave.

Slack in the leash; do you know that when you allow your dog to keep a tension in the leash you are actually encouraging the dog to pull ahead? Keeping slack in the leash will teach the dog to stay with you and not pull. If your dog begins to pull, you can use a treat or a pop on the leash to remind the dog he will be walking with no tension.

Stray dogs:

Maybe people say they don’t walk their dogs because they encounter stray dogs. Stray dogs are an opportunity, not something to avoid. If you run across an aggressive stray dog on a walk, there are a couple of things to remember:

Most likely if they are challenging you with an aggressive posture, they are more afraid of you than you are of them.

Stay calm. Dogs know what you feel. If you are confident the dog will know they cannot intimidate you.

Place yourself between your dog and the stray and very firmly tell the dog to “GO ON”. You are the one protecting your dog from being bothered by this stray dog. A stray dog is showing aggression to you to figure out if you are afraid of them or not. Once they figure out you are not afraid, they will back down. Once your dog figures out you have the situation under control, they will stop trying to take over the situation. If a stray dog is acting territorial and aggressive it’s only because this behavior has worked in the past. We show him it’s not going to work with us. If you have a fear of strays that you cannot cope with, I recommend you seek the assistance of a professional trainer for assistance.

The Benefits:

Dog Aggression:

Teaching your dog that he doesn’t have to defend himself will keep him from becoming dog aggressive himself or if he is already dog aggressive it will vastly improve this problem.

“A Tired Dog is a Happy Dog”.

You will see an over-all improvement in the behavior of your dog. Problems like separation anxiety, destructive behavior and many other issues will improve or disappear if you walk your dog prior to leaving the house.

Over-all Control:

Your dog will be generally better behaved if he is walked. You will find more control, less issues and a much happier dog. Walking will also create a bond between you and your dog.

Confidence building:

Both you and your dog will feel more confidence and be able to do more, go more places and have more fun.

Weight Loss and Health Benefits:

Both you and your dog will find the pounds falling off from good walks. Some say there is no better form of exercise. Here is a link from About.com listing some of the other health benefits associated with walking:


How long do I walk my dog?

It depends on the breed and energy level of your dog. A low energy dog can be walked 30 minutes a day and a high energy dog may require much longer walks. The two dogs shown in the photo below are walked 50 minutes a day six times a week. You can also break up your walks in to two a day.

Try it. You will be pleased with the results.

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