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How you can use your walks to stop bad habits forming  

“Walkies”, for most dogs, is a favourite time of day. They get to explore, learn, socialise and be with you! However, sometimes your daily walks can be the catalyst for new and naughty quirks and even dangerous or problematic behaviour. Here’s 10 top tips from our experts on how to stop bad habits from forming.

  1. Remember to vary your walking routines – this will stop boredom, keep your dog engaged and ultimately, more alert on you and where you are.
  2. Socialising is great but think about what your dog is learning too; if you let your dog run off to other dogs to play then be prepared, he is more likely to be the victim of aggression, no matter how friendly they are! Equally if their walks are predominantly spent chasing squirrels then don’t be surprised if their recall is poor in future.
  3. If you frequently have to use exercise as a means of improving your dog’s behaviour, consider providing higher levels of mental stimulation instead. This should be in the form of games and training alongside a more moderate exercise regime.
  4. Dog or puppy training classes are great, but all training needs to continue in situ. This means you can use your walks to implement and practice skills no matter the age of your pooch. If they can respond to commands despite distraction, you can bask in that success!
  5. Ball chasing is great fun but like most things, it’s better in moderation. Dogs can actually get addicted to ball chasing and this will lead to your dog stealing other dog’s balls and toys and even ruining children’s games.
  6. Recall is possibly the most vital command your dog can learn and so your rewards need to reflect this. Remember to use a recall line in the early days and try not to only put your dog on the lead at the very end of a walk as this may create issues with recall in the future.
  7. If you do struggle with recall, you may want to consider running or cycling with your dog
  8. Make sure to be the centre of your dog’s attention by harnessing their natural instincts and likes such as chase games, scent games, hide and seek or even doggie parkour!
  9. Remember that food doesn’t have to be delivered to your dog in their bowl. Disperse their daily calories and keep their brain busy by bringing food on your walks to reward good behaviour and interrupt the naughty things.
  10. If your dog is being aggressive or is very nervous with other dogs or people – seek help from a dog behaviour specialist early on (your vet can advise on this).

Fiona Whelan ~ Pet Behaviourist

Fiona has been working at the Training and Behaviour Centre as a behaviour specialist since 2002, and previously ran her own training and behaviour establishment in Lincolnshire for seven years so has a wealth of experience as a behaviour counsellor.