Preventing Problems With Your Dog During the Walk
The daily walk is an important part of responsible pack leadership — but for many, it’s also the most stressful. Mastering the walk will not only make this part of your daily routine enjoyable but also go a long way towards addressing other problem behaviors as well because it can help your dog to see you as the Pack Leader.
Walking outside does come with its hazards, and it's important to adapt your walks to the day's weather. Keep walks short in hot weather or with senior dogs. It's time to head home if your dog stops walking, begins to slow down, or shows any signs of exhaustion. Contact a vet right away if you see signs of heatstroke.
Avoid asphalt on hot summer days, as the road can burn your dog's paw pads. If it's too hot for your bare feet, it's too hot for your dog. On these days, consider a walk in a grassy park instead and be sure to take some water with you.
In winter, protect your dog's paws from icy, snowy, or salted roads. Watch for signs that your dog's feet are getting too cold as they're susceptible to frostbite. Doggy boots can help, but you'll have to let your dog get used to them as most find boots to be far from natural. Even if they don't work out, it's worth a shot and rather hilarious to watchdogs try them out!
Also, if your dog has a short coat, you might want to get a sweater to keep it warm on walks. Dogs are usually more accepting of these than boots, and once your dog associates the sweater with the fun of going for a walk, it will likely welcome getting dressed.
Some dogs like to stop and smell the roses. And then stop to smell them again and again… You can prevent this behavior by keeping the leash short (but not tight) and your dog’s head up. Maintain your calm-assertive energy and stay focused on your destination. Then allow your dog brief breaks to stop, explore, and relieve himself. These breaks are your dog’s reward for following you on the walk instead of their nose.
It’s possible that your dog is overheated or overtired, so this should always be the first thing you consider: Are you asking her to go too long or in temperatures that are uncomfortable for her? Sometimes we forget that a dog’s exercise needs change as they age. It’s also possible your dog is suffering from a health issue. Consult your vet. Once you’ve ruled those causes out, one strategy for dealing with this is to give a slight sideways tug on the leash to jolt the dog back into walking. You may have to repeat it if she stops again until she gets the message to keep moving.
Your dog grabs the leash in his mouth. Some nibble and bite, while others pull, like a game of tug-of-war. This may be done while walking or when standing still with the leash on. Teach your dog an alternative behavior to do instead. For some dogs, merely asking for a heel while walking or rewarding a quiet behavior while waiting, such as a down, replaces the leash chewing. You can also take the fun out of unwanted mouthing by downplaying the behavior. Try using two leashes, one on a harness and the other on the collar. When your dog grabs one leash to mouth or chew, drop the leash to take away the resistance that is naturally created when you’re holding on to the leash. Switch between leashes as needed so that there is no fun tug available with the leash game.