When you adopt a dog, you would be dreaming about the long, leisurely walks you will have together. But your dog may have other ideas. Though almost all dogs jump at the chance of going out for walks, except when they are ill, their idea of fun might be quite different from yours. While breeds full of energy might want to run about freely, chasing squirrels or other dogs, some large breeds are known to be highly temperamental, preferring to stay indoors some days.
Walks are important to the dogs from the point of view of its health as well as discipline. It’s bonding time between the dog and its owner. So you should train the dog in such a way that these walks become a great experience for both of you. Keep that in mind when you take the dog out for its first walk.
Setting the pace
Start on a day when both you and the dog are fit and happy. If it is a puppy, or a dog that has not been trained before, you should be having sufficient control over the leash before you take him out. The dog will be very excited as you step out of the house together. It will try to run ahead, pulling you along. While the enthusiasm of the dog is quite understandable, it is important that you set the right pace from the very beginning.
The right pace of the walk is the pace you are most comfortable with, because you can never hope to match the dog’s pace. Do not allow the dog to drag you along. If you are dealing with high-energy breeds like retrievers or boxers, have a game of chase with him in the yard before starting out for the walk. This will burn up some of the pent-up energy.
Limiting the time
Most dogs have a good deal of energy, but the continuous exertion on the leash can be very tiring, if not harmful. Red eyes and heavy panting are signs of overexertion. But dogs are often unmindful of their tiredness and will still want to continue. But you should limit the duration of the walk until the dog learns to fall in with your pace without either pulling on the leash or lagging behind.
The first day’s walk should not be for more than 15 minutes. This can be later increased in small increments, with short breaks for rest in between. Sometimes the dog will be reluctant to stop for rest, but you should be insistent. If he refuses, you should just take him back home.
If your dog is not a trained one, he may be distracted by many things along the way such as other dogs and people. He may want to pounce on every pigeon and chase every squirrel he meets. This tendency should be curbed with firm pressure on the leash. You should also talk to him soothingly and offer some treats to take his mind off the temptation to fly.
If it is an athletic breed of dog that you have adopted, and have the energy to match, start on a brisk pace as soon as you set out. Maintain the pace until you reach your destination for rest. This will prevent the dog from responding to wayside distractions.
If you firmly establish the rules from the very beginning, these walks will become an activity that both of you look forward to and enjoy.