So often people tell me, “I want my dog to look at me when we go for a walk”. And I ask them “why?”
We need to learn to allow our dogs to relax, sniff, enjoy their walk. Sure, there are times when we want our dog’s full attention, and a perfect heel but not all the time! What we really want is a “check in” often. If we relax and we allow our dogs to relax, loose leash walking becomes a breeze, a team game, something you do together with your dog rather than a competition, your dog against you and you against your dog.
If you are asking the dog to “heel” and “look at me” every minute of every mile of every walk your dog will soon ignore you for better scenery! That isn’t to say that your dog isn’t interested in you, but your dog sees you all the time, does he get to sniff where that kitty just was all the time? Does he get to sniff that particular pine cone all the time?
The goal for taking your dog on a nice leisurely walk should be a loose leash and a relaxing time together. You’ll find your dog checking in with you often. Hey, if YOU find something cool on the ground, stop and say “find it! hey, look at that!” YOUR dog will think that YOU are THE coolest! How about planting something to find when he isn’t looking at you? (or better yet, recon the walking path first and plant good stuff to find) Like drop a cookie, for example, or maybe something stinky that you can conceal in a bottle and dump out then say “Hey! LOOK what I found!” WHO would be THE coolest human in the world?
Teaching your dog to walk close to you is not difficult and it is necessary. Walking close to you is counter-intuitive to any dog’s instinct. Dogs want to run, investigate, sniff and you want them to walk slow and stay 6 inches from your ankle or knee cap. Why is that fun for your dog? It isn’t. So you teach them that they can still have fun and stay close at the same time.
So when you take your dog for a nice walk on the leash, remember that he wants to enjoy it too!