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A guide on how to make dog walks more exciting

Donna Connelly, Award winning Dog Behaviorist and Trainer, will in this article teach you how can we can make our walks more interesting and exciting for our dogs. If you want to build a strong relationship with your dog, this article gives you advice on how to interact with your dog on walks. 

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Donna Connelly - Dog Behaviorist and trainer

Every interaction is a training interaction even if unintentional and you will have a much happier dog if you build a strong bond with your dog and actually have fun with your dog. I like to give my dogs as many happy moments throughout the day as I can, making their lives as happy and fulfilled as possible. For me, it's not just a walk in the park.

Walking and training dogs means I’m in the park at least four times a day. This morning I watched a man play fetch with his Jack Russell Terrier. The dog was a true professional; his eyes never left the ball then dutifully retrieved it and returned it to the foot of the owner to throw it again and again and again. The dog’s owner was on his phone only pausing to pick up the tennis ball in his ball launcher and throw it in the same direction as before. Is this a happy dog? Look again at the dog and the owner. Are they interacting with each other? Does the dog look happy or is it merely repeating a behaviour because that’s the only thing to look forward to on a walk? Now, don’t get me wrong, fetch can be a great game but there is so much more you can do with your dog.

3 things to be aware of on your walk

    Every interaction is a training interaction

    Every interaction is a training interaction even if unintentional and you will have a much happier dog if you build a strong bond with your dog and actually have fun with your dog. I like to give my own and my clients dogs as many happy moments throughout the day as I can, making their lives as happy and fulfilled as possible.

    Use the environment

    Use the environment and things around you to enhance your dogs walk and stimulate him both mentally and physically. Even if you have only just started training with your dog, use what your dog already knows and build on this. If your dog knows sit, start working on stays. In the house at first with no distractions, then bring it out to the park. Vary the places you ask your dog to do this – use park benches, fallen trees for example. Ask your dog to jump up on a bench, then ask him to sit. Give him a treat!  For me taking my dogs for a walk is about both of us having fun. There are lots of opportunities to have fun with your dog even if it’s whilst taking the kids to school – practise your sits and waits at the roadside when you crossover. Practise your heelwork by weaving in and out of bollards

    It's all fun and games

    Once you get to the park, then get creative. Play hide and seek. Dogs love this and what better way of reinforcing a speedy recall? We are fortunate enough to have such a wonderful park with so many fantastic areas for us to play with our dogs in. Try throwing a toy for your dog, let him chase it then hide before he has chance to turn around. Call him and see the delight on his face when he finds you. If you are walking with a friend, partner or the children, take it in turns to call your dog.

    Make a treat tree out of a fallen tree or log – ask your dog to sit and stay or place him on lead. I place Marleybones natural air-dried treats along a log so he can see them. Release him and ask him to ‘find’ them. My dogs love to play this.

    If you watch groups of dogs, look out for all their silent conversations and how they interact with each other – a dog will go and sniff an area – before you know it, the other dogs are also there, getting the local news. You can join in by making this natural behaviour into a game. Have a treat or toy in your hand. Bend down to investigate an area – it can be a piece of grass or a bush. Make your voice bright and say something like “Ooh, what’s this?” Before you know it your dog will be rushing over to see what is so exciting. Once he’s looking around the spot give him a treat or his toy.

    Walking your dog should be enjoyable for both of you. For me, it’s not just a walk in the park.


    Happy Walking!

    Donna Connelly Dog Behaviorist and trainer

    Who?

    Donna Connelly is the founder and Instructor at Barking Mad Dog Training and has been working with dogs professionally for 30 year.

    Donna is a member of both the Association of Pet Dog Trainers and the Institute of Modern Dog Trainers. Which ensures her methods are ethical, evidence based and practical.

    Fun fact

    Getting her first family dog, Shep at the age of 12, Donna now shares her life with her partner and daughter along with 4 Rhodesian Ridgebacks, Miss Scarlett (6), Grace (3), Valerie (2) and Darcy (1). Not missing out her German Spitz, Tinkerbelle (13) and the newest additions Kali (8 months) and Harry (9 months) both Jack Russells.

    Why?

    Donna specialises in helping new puppies and their owners. Along with helping and supporting multi dog households live in harmony and helping rehabilitated dogs with issues such as aggression and settling in the new home.

    Donna shares her knowledge here with us, and we just love learning new things every month!

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