Talking your Boisterous Dog for A Walk
Sometimes it helps you maintain control of a very boisterous dog on walks by focusing their attention on you. This can be achieved by encouraging the dog to play games, keeping his or her mind off other people and dogs, or scents, which result in your dog disappearing off.
From a dog’s point of view, going for a walk, is actually going hunting for food. The following are suggestions for giving your dog exciting and stimulating games, which will hopefully allow you both to enjoy walks more, and which mimic hunting.
1. Hunt the toy. Choose a toy which is easily carried in the mouth such as a “raggy” toy, or a toy on a rope. This toy should only be available to the dog during training sessions and when out on a walk. We want this toy to become very exciting to your dog, so it is important that training sessions happen when he or she is hungry. Start by having short training sessions at home. Encourage your dog to take the toy in his or her mouth, then give a small treat (something really yummy like cheese or peperami) when the toy is dropped. Introduce a simple command such as “GIVE”, and repeat the exercise several times. Keep training sessions to about 5 minutes, and always put the toy away out of the dog’s reach at the end of the session. The toy should quickly become very exciting to the dog, and you can start to throw it and encourage the dog to fetch.
Start to do the training sessions on walks, with the dog on an extending lead. You could also try hiding the toy somewhere in the house or garden, rewarding your dog as before for finding it and bringing it to you. As your dog becomes better at this game, you should phase out the treats, but still give them occasionally to keep the interest going.
This game provides dogs with exercise and mental stimulation on walks, mimicking the natural activity of hunting.
2. Hunt the food. For this game, it is necessary to get away from the idea of feeding your dog from a bowl, at home. That is just too easy for lively dogs, requiring next to no effort on their part. For this game you need a small plastic container with a secure lid, which you can put several holes in. You will also need some kind of container for food, which you can easily carry, such as a belt bag. The only other things you need are a hungry dog with a good nose, and most of his or her daily ration of food.
With the dog on an extending lead, place a few pieces of food in the container with holes. Throw the container a very short distance away from you, then encourage the dog to sniff the box, using a simple command such as “find it!”.
When the dog shows an interest in the container, open the box and allow him or her to eat the contents. Gradually make it slightly more difficult, by throwing the box further away, and into more and more dense vegetation if possible. Once the dog has got the hang of this game, you can make it as difficult as you like, because he or she will know that when you shout “find it!”, that it will be worth spending time looking for the food.
Finally, a couple of tips. Try not to only attach the lead at the end of the walk, if your dog is difficult to get back on the lead. This indicates the end of the fun, so why should he or she cooperate. Call your dog several times, and attach the lead, giving a treat or toy as a reward, during the walk. After a short period on the lead, let the dog off again.
You could also try feeding a significant portion of the diet at the end of the walk, either when you get back to the car, or when you attach the lead in preparation for going home.
I hope these tips will help you and your dog to get more enjoyment out of going for walks.