Ask the trainer: Walking your dog

By Nadine Steele

The most frustrating thing about walking their dogs for many owners is the frequent stops and deposits our dogs make on the journey.

The need to read "pee mail'' is as important to our dogs as it is for ourselves to be reading our paper; every urine deposit carries a scent message telling our dogs who they are outlining the sex and size of the dog.

The great news for us is that we can teach our dogs to restrict the amount of time spent sniffing, avoid the unexpected arm wrench as they veer toward the scent and create an allowable area to explore the fine print.

It is natural for your dog to want to mark its perceived territory and most dogs will begin this ritual as they leave your property. This is where you begin to set your area, for example a mark on the gate post and the lamp post at the end of the street are the two landmarks that I allow my dogs to post and read the "pee mail''. Once this has been duly dealt with our uninterrupted walk begins. This is achieved by using a quick walk past temptations with the vocal "leave it'' command to make it very clear that stopping is not an option.

Once you have passed the desirable location resume your normal walking speed and praise your dog for continuing to move forward.

If your dog tends to lunge and drag you toward every unseen scent you come across, walk them on a shorter leash until they have successfully got the idea of when they can and cannot stop along the way.

To shorten your leash when your dog is out in front of you, quicken your pace to bring your body up to their neck area while moving your leash across your body effectively restricting the amount of length they have to stretch.

This way you smoothly transition into a quicker pace and avoid the lunge without getting into a tug of war battle with your dog.

When off leash, dogs will be dogs and enjoy the updates left by all that have visited the area today so waiting on your behalf is to be expected. However, a quick sniff can be encouraged by moving on and leaving your dog to

catch up to you once it has satisfied its senses. If you are prepared to stop for five minutes, your dog is likely to be happy to take full advantage and will insist that this ritual be followed every time you visit an off leash area.

Paw point of the week:

Your walks are about giving your dog sensory experiences. However, you must provide your dog with boundaries on what is and is not acceptable.

Contact me for the chance to have your question selected for publication at for further information on Dog Guru visit


- Rotorua Daily Post

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