Dogs need exercise. Many breeds require a daily walk for that sole reason. But there are other reasons and needs that dogs have that call for a walk.
Potty walk: This is best accomplished in a safe area where the dog can get a bit away from you to find the right spot to pee and poop. Most dogs will pee anywhere but like a bit of privacy when pooping.
Often they select the same spot in their yard or on their walks so they recognize their scent. Being near a bush, tree, fence or house and not in the open is preferred for pooping.
It is okay to allow a dog to get to the end of a leash in for this; however, it is not safe to use a long line or retractable leash unless your dog is far from the road or other safety distractions.
The potty walk is the dog’s walk, not yours.
Exploration walk: Exploring their universe is critical to proper development in a puppy or a dog. Learning about their environment, where they can go or not go, where other dogs live, where kids play and other sights and smells tell a dog this is his world.
Allowing him time to be out ahead of you and exploring – as long as he is not in an unsafe area or private property – is his walk and not yours.
You might not find many of these areas in your neighborhood and might need to go to a park, beach or open spaces to achieve this, but it is still important to let dogs safely explore their home territory.
Loose leash walk: This is the most commonly used walk every day and is used for exercise. The dog is about 18 inches from the side of your body on a short but slightly slack leash. She is not out in front of you.
This walk is taken on sidewalks, streets and when distractions approach. It is your walk and not hers, so she needs to understand who is in control.
It is taught with cue words, such as “Let’s walk,” so the dog can differentiate this walk from others. That cue in addition to the positioning next to you indicates that this is your walk.
The dog should not be permitted to pull or to get in front of you. If she does, stop walking and verbally correct – “Eh Eh” – or change directions. Reward and praise for doing it properly. This walk helps to keep your dog safe.
Heel: This is the least used of walks, but used in highly distracting environs, crowds, noise and unsafe areas. Your hand is flush with the side of your leg, no space between your hand and the leg.
You begin walking with the leg nearest the dog and cue, “Heel.” Your dog is never out ahead of you, as it is the ultimate control walk. When you need to keep your dog’s attention on you, this is the walk you use.
It is mostly done with larger dogs and rarely with small ones. It can be ideal if your dog is highly reactive to specific distractions or you feel you don’t have good control of your dog.
The dog starts walking and stops walking with you. He feels like he is part of your body. It is often accompanied by control equipment such as harnesses or control collars.
Knowing which walk to use as you train your dog is important so that both you and the dog can enjoy your daily walks and still remain safe at all times.
Abby Bird is owner of Alphadog Training Academy. AlphadogTrainingAcademy@gmail.com