Becoming a Pack Leader by Mastering Dog Walks
“A vigorous, — 45-minute walk done correctly, with you in front! — every morning is crucial. This represents a primal migration with the pack leader. So it becomes both a physical and psychological exercise.” Cesar Milan The Dog Whisperer
I picked Jaycee up from the Humane Society in the evening and took her for her first walk early the next morning. Since our relationship was new I did not really know what to expect. I got more than I could have imagined.
That first morning she managed to trip me hurting my ankle, pull my arm hurting my triceps and bump into me hurting my knee. By the time I made it home, I was battered and bruised and she was not the least bit tired – and Jaycee was only 30 pounds into her eventual 78. Obviously we both had a lot of work to do and neither one of us was going to give in easily.
Two years later Jaycee and I enjoy 2 or 3 walks a day without mishaps
How did we get to this happy co-existence? A lot of hard work on both of our parts.
First we went through a number of different leashes, including one that went around her nose that the dog school instructor assured me never failed to work. The only problem is that Jaycee has a long, thin nose and with one flip of her head she was able to throw off her gentle leader and roam free.
Then we started with classes. We went through three obedience classes. Although we learned a lot of things my primary goal was to get her to listen to me and walk with me.
Jaycee’s goal was to embarrass me and she exceeded beyond her wildest dreams
One class was held in a dog store where she managed to clear an entire display of small dog clothing within 30 seconds of arrival. I thought I was going to have to pay for $500 worth of dog clothes that would not fit her paw. But I digress, this about getting your dog to walk well on a leash not about the ways your dog can embarrass you.
The classes definitely helped, more because they taught me what to do than teaching Jaycee what to do. I decided that one thing that would help was not only increasing the distance that we walked but also rewarding her for her good behavior, rare that it was.
We start off on our daily walks by marching out the front door to the end of the driveway where I make her sit before we cross the street.
By showing her that I am boss and for being good, she will always get a treat. I then make her sit every time we cross a street and every time she sits I give her a treat.
If she pulls, I yank her back and make her sit. There is no sniffing around, there is no playing with other dogs on her walk – both of us are walking for exercise so there is no stopping.
After two years of training, I get stopped all the time by both neighbors and strangers driving by who comment on what a well behaved dog I have and what a beautiful dog I have and what a smart dog I have.
I even had a neighbor call me to compliment me on my well-behaved dog. If only they knew how hard it was to become a pack leader. Unlike the Dog Whisperer’s immediate transformations, our more balanced relationship came through literally hundreds of miles of daily walks.
The last thing we do at the end of our walk is to always have a little review session in the driveway.
I make Jaycee sit and stay and come, lie down and stay and come, etc. Then I say “Let’s Go” and we both walk toward the front door on a loose leash which Jaycee immediately senses. She tries to head to the trees and the squirrels while I try to regain control.
Not a Dog Whisperer Pack Leader yet but we are making progress
The Dog Whisperer is right. Daily walks with your dog are not only healthy exercise but these walks will reward you with a better dog through your shared miles.
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