Last week a post was flying around about allowing dogs to sniff and stroll leisurely. It was almost as if there were suggestions that many people are extremely rigid and too structured in their walks with no leniency for being dog.
I guess people go to extremes in all things and never let dogs be dogs.
And though you hear me talk often about structure and leadership, or even taking control of the walk. I want to look at this topic a little more closely.
Yes, dogs are built to sniff and smell. Yes, we want them to enjoy the walk. Yes, it makes them happy.
But there are times we need to have some rules in place. And times the walk needs to be “work” not a stroll.
You’re walking through the neighborhood and Old Man Mr. McGrumpypants is notorious for complaining about dogs in his yard.
You notice the signs in the yard that the Pest Control Company has sprayed the common areas in your neighborhood. Your dog can’t read them. Keep him moving.
If your dog thinks everything on the ground is sniff worthy, including the goose poop and cigarette butts and you don’t have a good “leave it”
If your dog doesn’t have rules about moving with you just because you said so and decides to cop a squat in an inappropriate place or when you don’t have a poop bag
You’re in a new environment that is sensory overload
You’re walking on a city street with who knows what on the ground
You’re walking in the woods and find a nest, a den, or a critter you didn’t expect to see.
If your dog is one who lunges, barks, snarls, or otherwise shows all sorts of a-holery when you walk him — your need to take the lead. If you get your dog in good heel — head up, eyes forward, just because you told him too — he simply cannot simultaneously be carrying out bad behavior.
If your dog is pulling you across the yard, slowing down your walk, zig zagging around your feet and otherwise, making the walk no fun for you — Fix the walk before you let him wander.
If your dog has no real clue that you’re even attached to his leash, because the world around him is exciting, arousing, stimulating and just overwhelming — you need more structure and more relationship before he gets leisure time on the walk.
If you have an aggressive dog that gets himself into some serious trouble and is bratty even to you — You should be even more structured. Staying structured and predictable can give your dog better results. Save the leisure for places other than the greenway, park or neighbor’s yard.
The whole point here is with 100% certainty your dog loves to sniff and forage around. He should get to do so, when YOU give PERMISSION and only in the places you give permission. And when you say “Let’s Go” your dog’s feet start moving right away without you having to drag him to leave.
It’s just leadership. It’s rules, boundaries. It’s an on-off switch. It’s manners. It’s relationship
And it’s completely doable. When you get all that in check — then give him freedom on the walk.