The Importance of the Walk

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By Melanie Barrett

“I have a big yard, so I don’t need to walk my dog.”

Dog 1

“My dog likes to play fetch so I throw the ball for a while and that’s how he gets his exercise.”

This is what I hear from a lot of dog owners—not just my clients. There is so much more to the dog walk than just taking them out to go potty. The pack walk between you and your dog(s) is the most natural thing you can do with your dog. It can empower you as their leader and make you relevant in their eyes. When that is the case, your dog will look to you for direction. Being a leader and protector is critical to having a healthy bond with your dog. walks are a healthy way to bond with your dog and therefore boost your bond as a leader-follower team.

Many unwanted behaviors can be solved on the pack walk. With practice, patience and commitment to the process, you can stop leash aggression, pulling, jumping and biting the leash, to name a few behavior problems.

While out walking, your dog will most likely meet other dogs. This is a great opportunity to help your dog learn acceptable ways of socially interacting with new dogs. It can help build confidence in your dog being around other dogs. Walking your dog around other dogs, people and environments is a win-win situation. Before I had a pack of five dogs, the three I had were no fun to walk. I think they thought they were sled dogs because they were pulling so badly. After I trained with Cesar the Dog Whisperer for the first time in 2016, I learned specific walking rules that actually changed the way I walked my dogs.

Now my pack and any other dogs that may be in my care, have pleasant walks. There is no pulling, no barking at other dogs, no lunging, etc. If your dog has a lot of energy or gets bored easily, certain problems can arise. When people tell me their dog is chewing on furniture or excessively barking or chewing on shoes and clothes, I know the dog is not getting enough exercise. The walk is a good opportunity to drain the brain. Studies have shown that dogs walked regularly are better behaved and less destructive than dogs who aren’t.

Set a schedule to walk your dog every day. A 30 minute walk is great if you can allow for this time. Make this a family affair. Bring your children or spouse along for the pack walk. This gives everyone the chance to get some good exercise. Allow yourself to be flexible. If you miss a day walking, catch up the next day. Remember—the walk begins before you even leave the house. Dogs may not be excited before leaving the house. The owner always walks out—and back in– before the dog. Always. This establishes us as the pack leader.

Happy walking!

Melanie Barrett is the owner of Emerald Coast Dog Behavior. Follow her on Instagram at 30aSwimDog. A

A structured group pack walk is set for Saturday, March 13, at 10 a.m. The cost is $25 and will last 30

minutes. No aggressive dogs. For more information, contact Melanie at melaniebarrett@mac.com, or 850-218-0476.

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