I want to talk about leash walking today. We should spend time with our dogs, taking them out for walks and having them experience nature and see other animals.
I want to go over just a few things to consider. When I’m walking along with a dog, I want them to be well-mannered. Of course, I’d like my dog to meet some people, but you don’t always meet the right people. The right people, for me, are people who are in control of themselves. There are people who just want to rush up to my dog and begin to pet them or have my dog sniff the back of their hand. I don’t want those people to come and meet my dog. I want to advocate for my dog and keep those people at a distance. If people are coming up, I like to say “I’m sorry, my dog is in training and is learning how to be calm.”
You should really practice this and roll play with your family members doing this because, in the moment when people are rushing up to you, it’s really hard to tell them “no, you can’t pet my dog.” Being prepared with this response will make it a lot easier for you. That response to them may even start a good conversation. You should be able to maintain an adult-like conversation and your dog should be able to stay in control of themselves. This is an important skill for you. Can you calm your dog non-verbally and also be engaging in conversation with someone else?
People will come up and ask to pet your dog, and if your dog is calm and under control, I will tend to say “ would it be a problem to give him a treat?” Some dogs don’t like strangers coming up and touching them in the face or giving them attention. Having your treat pouch with you, handing them a treat, and having them kneel, then allowing your dog to go to them to get the food is a much better way than having them smother your dog and coming into their space. I want you to really think about that, but of course, you can also just say “no.” If someone is charging up and they’re going to touch your dog without asking, you should be very firm with that person. Be polite, but assert yourself and demand space for your dog. Your dog needs to see that you can get other humans and dogs to go away because that really helps to assert your place as their leader.
I hope this was helpful! Happy Training.