Walking your dog offers more benefits than just exercise. A walk can form a closer bond with your dog, give them firm structure, and help your dog understand their role. Every dog is shaped by their environment. Your dog is going to be looking to you for signs of their role and responsibilities. A structured walk gives your dog confidence and sets healthy boundaries.
What does a structured walk look like?
A structured walk is a loose leash walk where your dog is right by your side and on their best behavior. There’s no tugging, no distractions, and no dashing off. A dog on a structured walk isn’t trying to run off or get too excited.
Benefits of a structured walk
- Reinforces training
This practice teaches your dog to take their cues from you. It helps control impulses and creates a calm mind. It reinforces all other training you’re currently doing with your dog.
- Builds confidence
Strong training and structured walking help build trust and confidence between you and your dog. They’ll see you as the leader. They’ll take your commands more readily and you’ll have trust in them following through.
- Creates bonds
You are likely the center of your dog’s whole world. They look to you for leadership, affection, and survival. Structured walking creates a comfortable environment where they are not afraid and where they can create positive memories with you.
How do I start structured walks with my dog?
You can start at any time. It’s never too late. You’ll want the appropriate collar or harness and leash for training. Take a secure hold on the leash and make sure the leash is held short enough that your dog stays by your leg. Carry a treat pouch for positive reinforcement on these walks.
Consistency is important and remember to be patient. Set a routine for your dog and they will learn to follow it. It takes time, but as you walk, use the leash and your words to communicate with your dog. You can teach your dog a cue or phrase by saying the same words when you praise them or give them treats.
Confidence and correction
Use those cues or phrases to get their attention if they start to stray or pull on the leash. You don’t want to jerk them back or yank on the leash. Use your cues and confidently adjust their behavior. If they try to go beyond the length you’ve set, stop walking, apply slight pressure on the leash and call them back to you. When they take the hint and fall back in line reward them.
Remember that a structured walk is not the end all be all of their exercise. They still get to sniff the grass and zoom around, you just get to choose when that happens. A structured walk isn’t taking away their fun. It helps them feel safe and secure when they’re at your side.
H2H Canine Orphanage
Home 2 Home is a non-profit canine orphanage revolutionizing the way dogs find their perfect homes. We consider ourselves an orphanage versus a traditional shelter because we provide needs-based care.
We also have licensed trainers on staff, veterinary care, flowing water, and always-available beds. Their better life starts when we get them, but their best life is after they’re adopted to their forever home. Learn more about us and our story