Archive for the ‘dog walking’ Tag

Walking with the Woofs – Your Story   Leave a comment

So what can I advise from my own experience to help you achieve a happy walk?

  • It’s about your close relationship with your dog as well as obedience.  You’re a team or family, walking together, having fun.  Chat to your dogs a little, let them know you’re happy to be there with them, don’t let them go more than a few meters away from you, teach them that staying near to you is where the good stuff happens. 
  • Teach ‘watch me’ or ‘look’ so when you speak your dog actually tunes in.
  • Teaching ‘recall’ is vital – never, ever let your dog off lead if you’re not sure he’ll come back to you.  Practise recall on lead, using the normal lead or a long line, with many repetitions in all possible situations.  Once you have some confidence in your pup, let him trail a long (5 –10m) lead that you can quickly reach to ensure his obedience.
  • Walk with a toy on a rope that you and your pup play with at home.  When you call him, wiggle the toy excitedly and play ‘tug of peace’ when he comes in – you need to be more exciting than the other dogs – well, at least try!!
  • In the early days, arm yourself with treats in a treat bag and clicker as well as the toy.
  • Keeping moving quite quickly, humans are sooo boring when they walk slowly. Vary the route and direction, keep them guessing a little.
  • When you’re near other dogs, call your pup in closer to you and try to distract him from rushing up to them.  Young dogs often get into trouble in their enthusiasm which is unappreciated by older dogs.  It takes can take ages for a happy youngster to learn this (or at least it took ages for Minka!) but keep working at it until you just have to use a warning tone for your dog to respond.
  • Keep your dog away from dogs on lead – sometimes it’s because the other dog is aggressive and it’s not fair for your pooch to wind them up, besides being dangerous.
  • Pick up after your dog – ‘Bags on Board’ is a roll of doggie doo bags to keep in your pocket or clipped to the lead. 
  • I seldom actually ‘recall’ my dogs, they just never move that far away that I need to.  I think this comes about because I’ve done lots of heel work with them so being close to mom is in itself rewarding now.  Teaching with positive reinforcement methods means your dog will be ever hopeful of goodies or a game. 
  • Practise in your garden: move away from your pup, call him to your side and when he arrives, click and treat.  Move away again, click and treat.  You can lure him in close if necessary but only reward him when he’s in close to you.  This teaches him to come to heel and to watch what you’re doing because you’re unpredictable. 
  • Begin when your pup is just 9-10 weeks old by going to a reputable puppy school (with just 4 – 6 pups per trainer) where the emphasis is on dog-human relationship building and successful, controlled interaction between dogs.  It is NOT about wild play with other pups, it’s about him learning sensible, polite doggie language so he can behave appropriately when meeting all kinds of dogs.  They learn a lot in play, but also on lead in class.

So, once your pup has had all his vaccinations, get out there and begin a lifetime of pleasure and exercise!  The more you do it the easier it will get. 

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Walking with the Woofs – My Story   Leave a comment

Lately I’ve been thinking about how to help people achieve relaxed, enjoyable walks with their dogs, using my years of experience walking German Shepherds and Jack Russell Terriers.

It starts with a good place to walk, preferably off lead, although it can still be a great experience on lead.  Off lead is where most guardians come unstuck, but if you can get it right, the pleasure of walking with your fast moving, free dogs is immense!

So here’s what happens with my dogs:

We go regularly to the park – a wonderful, huge space ringed by the Hottentots Holland Mountains, with sports fields and open grassed areas.  A river chortles along one side, at this time of the year it is boiling and tumbling rather than chortling after all the rain.  There are lots of trees along the river so it’s a pleasure even in summer.   Many locals run and cycle there, and of course it’s a dog walker’s paradise.  There are busy times of the day when you can pass more than 50 people and their dogs, depending on which way you go. 

Sometimes we go to the beach at Strand.  Here it can be more challenging for my big, energetic girls (GSDs) who cover so much ground quickly as the space is narrower with fewer options for changing direction and avoiding a possible problem.  I am so proud of them when they meet and greet and politely choose not to respond to silly little yappers, or jumpy youngsters.  They keep an eye on me and all I need to do is keep moving and maybe quietly call them away to have them break away and come after me.  Shepherd bitches are not known for their patience so I am aware of their tolerance limits.  Uschi usually chooses to not engage, but if she does she’s polite and disinterested.  If she’s carrying a toy she’ll warn with a growl but never anything more.  She’s a balanced dog with a happy temperament.   Her daughter Minka is more reactive and much more interested in interacting with other dogs, but not keen on playing anymore.  If a game starts I have to watch her that she doesn’t switch from ‘play’ to ‘prey’.  Rather bossy, in typical insecure child fashion.

We’ve had 3 Jack Russells over the years and it’s been just as much fun with them, despite their terrier tendencies to prefer going down a mole hill to keeping up with me!  Sometimes it was my 2 GSDS, Pepsi our JR and my dad’s JR Minchie too – 4 bitches all walking very happily together.  Sadly we had to put Pepsi (see photo in  post Reflections 27/12/11) and Minchie to sleep in May so now it’s just the big girls.

I’ll unpack my tips on achieving a happy walk in the next post.