Turn Your Walks Into Training Opportunities

There are many different types of walks that we can take our dogs on, these involve exercise walks, sniffing walks, decompression walks, and training walks. Each one has a specific purpose and will have different expectations. Exercise walks have a goal of physically tiring out our dogs, we will be walking with distance and speed in mind. Sniffing and decompression walks have the goal of enriching our dogs lives by letting them take in the area around them, sniffing and focus instead on their emotional state versus physical. A training walk focuses on training our dogs and giving them the tools to succeed.

 

Turn Your Walks Into Training Opportunities 1

 

There are many different types of walks that we can take our dogs on, these involve exercise walks, sniffing walks, decompression walks, and training walks. Each one has a specific purpose and will have different expectations. Exercise walks have a goal of physically tiring out our dogs, we will be walking with distance and speed in mind. Sniffing and decompression walks have the goal of enriching our dogs lives by letting them take in the area around them, sniffing and focus instead on their emotional state versus physical. A training walk focuses on training our dogs and giving them the tools to succeed.

Training on our walks doesn’t have to end at loose leash walking, we can take our walks to the next level to inspire confidence for our dogs. There are many opportunities in the world that we can take advantage of to set our dogs up for success. Choose skills that you would like to focus on with your dog. Try to only pick a maximum of one or two things to work on during a training walk! You want to make sure to keep it fun and to also not overwhelm you or your dog.

Below is a list to get you started:
   – Ignoring other dogs
   – Ignoring other people
   – Loose leash
   – Check Ins (them looking towards you when you say their name, ask for eye contact when you ask for a “look,” or you want them to look to you without asking)
   – Stopping and sitting at corners
   – Build confidence with good exposures of new things

Prepare for your walk by planning your route and how you are going to train. For example, if you chose to work on ignoring other dogs, plan on being alert to your surroundings. If there is another dog out for a walk or you know a yard that has a dog in the backyard frequently, plan on increasing your distance so your dog doesn’t go over threshold. Have really yummy  treats ready and easily accessible, so you can reward the behaviors you want! Having a good plan in place will ensure consistency in your reactions and training, which will give your dog a clear picture to work towards!

As you take your walk, take mental notes on what went well and what didn’t go as planned. A training journal can be helpful so you can track your progress and look back at what your experiences have been. If things didn’t go as you hoped, look at why things went the way they did and work it into your plan for the next walk. Always take a look at what went right, and celebrate those wins with your dog!

Need more ideas of things to do on your walks and outings with your little and grown bpups? Check out our Happy Exposures ebook for lots of great tips and checklists to help you give your pup a wide variety of experiences. As an Explorers member, you get it for free!

 

Explorers: Start with something simple to add into your walk, like sitting at intersections or getting them to check in with you. Since your dog is not used to this training, the environment may be more interesting than checking in with you! Work to build a reward history so your dog knows that no matter where you are, you can be just as fun as the environment! If your dog can’t focus, try working in your front or back yards first, so they can get an idea of what you want before you begin your walk. If you have never asked for a check-in before, start by having a great treat ready and say your dog’s name or make an interesting noise to get their attention. As soon as they turn towards you, give them the treat!

Growers: Begin asking for different behaviors or at different time and places. Grow your dogs confidence by giving them success in different environments and distraction levels! Can they make eye contact with you when they see something they are interested in at a distance?  Remember to work with small increases, if they find something difficult, go back a step and give them a win to boost their confidence!

Challengers:  Work on an entirely new cue or in a new place. Note how well it goes and reinforce the wins! Broaden your pup’s experiences and distractions by finding new distractions for them to work with. For example, can you ask for and hold their attention and eye contact after they have seen a squirrel? Will they check in with you without prompting when they see a person or another dog? Experiment and try new things!