Trying to walk a dog with poor leash manners can be quite a stressful experience. If you’re having trouble walking your dog, never fear! Berkeley Humane is holding a “Lets Just Walk” class starting on March 19 that offers a series of exercises which (with practice) will increase your dog’s ability to focus during walks. The ultimate goal is to reach relaxed leash walking with your dog, build team work and ensure that walking your dog in public is an enjoyable, stress free experience for everyone involved!
Walking on leash can ultimately be a very frustrating experience for dogs - they can feel uncomfortable, limited, or vulnerable if not guided and trained. When properly taught leash manners, dogs can get a lot of great mental and physical stimulation from a nice leashed walk!
Nancy Frensley, behavior and training manager at Berkeley Humane, explains that a good measure of walking manners is being able to recall your dog to your side when passing another person or dog, and have your dog stay walking right alongside you until passing is clear. As a rule of thumb, this is a good courtesy to extend to others - even though your dog may be very friendly, most dogs are not comfortable with other dogs rushing right up to their face, and some people may be afraid of dogs!
According to Nancy, a common mistake most people make is to not ask anything of their dog while on leash. She explains, “Without cues or a ‘job,’ dogs tend be free to do…well, what dogs do! They bark, chase squirrels, react to other dogs and sounds.”
Rather than teach dogs to robotically watch you and not enjoy the walking experience, Nancy emphasizes allowing dogs to sniff and explore in a relaxed manner on the other end of the leash, but guiding them to understand your requirements (such as heeling and walking beside you when called). A key to this is to be alert and aware your environment and recall your pup with positive cues before they get a chance to be aroused and riled up.
In “Lets Just Walk,” dogs (and their humans) will learn positioning and heeling in all directions, which are both some key tools in working towards off leash etiquette.
“Good walking takes lots of energy and effort. An ideal walk is one where your dogs body is balanced over all four feet,” said Nancy, “This walking class will give people a very solid start and foundation to continue building on.”
You can register for the class as well as browse others at the Berkeley Humane dog training schedule page.