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Summer is here! Get ready for outdoor fun with your dog! Did you know, a healthy dog needs, on average, 45 minutes of outside exercise a day to meet his behavioral wellness needs? Whether you have a fenced yard, or no yard at all, taking your dog out for a spin is a terrific way to meet his (and your) exercise needs. But what if your dog is not well behaved on a leash, not so fun, right? Perhaps just the idea has you ready to flip the page. Hold on! Here are some tips that can help solve those leashed up problems.

1. Use the perfect tools

Visit your local pet store and check out different harnesses, collars, and leashes. What feels the most comfortable for you to hold? What does your dog enjoy wearing the most? Try different tools out to see what works for you. We like harnesses and a solid, no-slip grip leash.

2. Grab some amazing treats

Do you like to work for free? Dogs don’t either. They enjoy praise, play, food, and toys as a reward for good behavior. If you don’t have treats with you when your dog is a star you’ll miss that opportunity to let them know right then and there that they were terrific. Dogs don’t run on IOUs… we’ve tried. You’ll want more exciting treats for more challenging environments so pick a few different options. Hot dogs, deli meat, string cheese, freeze-dried cookies, even roast chicken (no bones, please!)

3. Look at that!

When your dog offers you eye contact on a walk, reward them. The best way to increase any behavior is to reinforce it. Your dog making eye contact with you is showing you that they are picking you over their environment.

4. Have fun

No, seriously. Your dog thinks you are the greatest thing since smelly trash cans and that dead thing they want to roll in sometimes. Your walk with them is equal parts their enjoyment and your enjoyment. Smile, laugh, and enjoy the great outdoors!

5. Smartphones?

Put them away! We all need a break from the internet and the constant stream of attention-grabbing social media, apps, texts, calls, emails, and notifications. Walking with your dog is not only beneficial for their well being, but it’s also helpful for yours.

6. Small steps, grasshopper.

Start your training inside, with minimal distractions so your dog can make great choices and be rewarded. Then move to a low traffic area, then to a more popular spot. Rome wasn’t built in a day so take time to lay a foundation that sets your dog up for success. You will both be more confident when it comes time to test your leash skills.

7. Mark excellent behavior with a “yes” or a praise word like “good” or “super”.

When your dog gives you a nice loose leash, praise and “mark” the behavior with an excited, “YES!” You’ll want to charge this word up by also asking for behaviors your dog already knows like “sit” or “shake,” say “yes” and then deliver a treat. We call this “loading” in dog training speak. You are pairing the word with a reinforcement, so it’s becoming more valuable to the dog.

8. Consider every time you clip on that leash as a training session.

Consider every time you clip on that leash as a training session. Come prepared with treats and small goals in mind. If you find that your dog is over stimulated in his environment while on a leash, you probably moved too fast and it’s time to take note and back up a few steps until he’s successful. These moments are not failures; they are learning opportunities.

9. Go hands-free!

Consider wearing a belt, bag or fanny pack (yes, I said it) while dogwalking to keep your hands free to hold just your leash and then your dog’s full waste bag while walking. A small bag or belt can hold a phone, keys, dog waste bags and treats so you aren’t juggling unnecessary items in your hands. And, if you do need to hold on tight to that leash you won’t be needing to replace your iPhone screen because it flew out of your hand onto the sidewalk!
I hope some of these tips can help you and your dog with your walks. When we take our dogs out of their typical habitat to explore and sniff and enjoy the sights and sounds they are more satisfied when they return home. Even extremely active dogs find great satisfaction out of some quality sniff time outside their home. The fitness benefits for dogs of all ages and breeds goes without saying. Most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy every moment with your dog, you are their favorite person!
This article also ran in the July-August 2018 issue of The Newsletter for Onion Creek Property Owners/Onion Creek HOA.

Pets Crave Love™

Professional Dog Walking Services in South Austin. Our service area includes 78747 as well as Ashbrook, Bluff Springs/Frontage Road, Bradshaw Crossing, Carrington Oaks, Chateau at Onion Creek, Colonial Grand at Double Creek, Congress, Courtyards at Onion Creek, Courtyards at Southpark Meadows, Crossing At Onion Creek, Enclave at Estancia, Farmhouse Apartments, Goodnight, Goodnight Ranch, Iron Rock Ranch, Legends Way at Onion Creek, Lennar, Meadows At Double Creek, Old California Apartments, Old San Antonio, Onion Creek, Onion Creek Plantation, Parkside At Slaughter Creek, Quicksilver, River Ridge, RSI Homes, South Grove, Southpark Terraces, Springfield Phase C, Springfield Village, Stablewood At Slaughter Creek, Stonecreek Ranch, Stonegate, Thaxton Place, The Bend At Nuckols Crossing, The Cottages, The Oak at Twin Creeks, Trails at The Park, Weber Hill, Yarrabee Bend and more. 

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