My Nala used to pull. A lot. I was one of those embarrassed dog owners who were sometimes yanked along wherever the dog wanted to go. I couldn’t let it continue, so I taught Nala how to walk on a leash calmly.
While it took time and a lot of patience, the payoff has well been worth it. I love strolling through the park with Nala at my side, able to fully appreciate the time we were spending together. It was a chance to stop and smell the roses, if you will. Then the plan backfired.
Nala has gotten so good at not pulling that now, I have to work to keep her moving! She went from pulling, anxious to get to whatever the next place was, to taking her sweet time as she sniffs every last blade of grass. Lamp posts? Good heavens. Those things must have a “mark your territory here” sign on them that’s visible only to dogs because apparently, that’s where Nala gets the scoop on every dog that’s been by. Suddenly, smelling is even more important to her than moving.
There was a dog here... and here... and here...
This is a problem. While I have no problem with her learning through her nose, I’d also like her to get some exercise during her walks. Kind of the point, really. We often walk in a park that has workout equipment along the path, so that’s the latest upgrade to our walks. I’ve started training Nala new commands like “paws up” and “over” to make the most of this equipment. The tricks are easier than I thought to train. I’ve been using The Dog Tricks and Training Workbook by Kyra Sundance. She makes it really easy to follow, builds on commands as you teach them, and at $8 it’s a steal.
Ever since I started this approach, our walks have been more interesting. They’re walks plus jumps plus mental stimulation. Much more fun, right? It’s gotten me more active too: there are times Nala will act like she doesn’t know what I’m asking her to do until I do it myself. (To anyone who’s seen me jump over equipment to get my dog to do it: you’re welcome for the laugh.)
Use benches as obstacles to jump on or over. Get a running start to help your dog clear high hurdles. Teach him to run circles around trees on command. There are any number of ways to enjoy walks more. If you’re looking to get more out of your daily walks, get creative.
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