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Enhancing Your Dog Walking Experience With Effective Verbal Communication

A common complaint among many dog guardians when it comes to daily walks is that dogs are completely disengaged and don’t listen to or interact with us. But, my questions are, are we providing engagement for them? How are we communicating with them? How effective is that communication? We can’t only leave it up to dogs to automactically know how to do this. There is a great big world full of many fun and exciting interactions, so it’s not common that if we go radio silent, our dogs will go radio silent too.


In order to get engagement from our dogs, it’s important to give it. Humans can completely check out and get lost in thought about how the day went, what we have left to do for the day, or what the rest of today or tomorrow might look like.

We also may want to just get the walk over and done with so we can get back to the house; which all is completely understandable.

But if we are disengaged from our dogs, is it really fair for us to become upset with them if they are also disengaged from us and may be lost in their own doggy world and thoughts?


I like to incoporate a few easy and effective verbal cues so my dog knows what is next. It is a little inconsiderate and unrealistic to expect our dogs to always be on the same wave length as us and anticipating our every move. We can help them learn how to be more aware and in sync with us, but that’s just it. WE have to teach them, practice together, and provide appropriate and needed feedback and guidance for them.

So what cues do I teach and use?


WAIT

This is when I need them to slow down (when walking down a hill or across an icy patch of road) or stop (I need to readjust something, pick up their poo, or we need to wait for traffic to clear before we cross the street).


LET’S GO, WITH ME

This is when it’s time to move on from a certain spot or area. While it is extremely important to let dogs use their sense of smell (it is a bit part of how the “see” andmake sense of the world), sometimes they can linger when we need to move on.


GO SNIFF

This is when we can give our dog the all clear that it’s okay to go investigate an interesting smell.


THIS WAY

This is when we are changing direction or speed. This can be especially helpful when you need to quickly move away from a situation, such as an approaching dog.


NOPE, UH-UH, LEAVE IT

This is when I need to communicate that whatever they might be interested in is none of our business and we are going to leave it alone. This can be followed by “let’s go” or “this way” to let our dog know we are moving away from whatever that thing is.


GOOD, YES, THANK YOU

This is when my dog follows directions (like after let’s go, this way, or leave it). It’s important to give them feedback when they follow directions and engage with us. This is also something I use when my dog glances back at me to make eye contact, even if it’s super quick. This is them being aware that a human is also on a walk with them and they are “checking in”, which we absolutely want to always encourage and reward.

Try it out! It might take a little bit of work and practice before your dog starts to respond, but I can guarantee you they will appreciate the feedback and become more engaged with you.




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