1 mobile phone switched off or to airplane mode
1 treat bag with tasty treats your dog likes
1-2 toys your dog likes
1/3-1/2 of your dog's dinner ration
1 clicker for training
1 5ft lead and a suitable flat collar, or a harness if your dog pulls on the lead
An area suitable for some off-lead exercise
1 long line/training line (10-15 meters) if your dog cannot be trusted off lead
A mental plan for a few training and play activities with your dog
- Take your dog somewhere nice and seek out different places for a variety that both you and your dog will appreciate. Trampling over the same ground and smells every day gets a little dull.
- Know what your dog likes!
- If your dog finds it over-arousing or stressful to come across other dogs that are off lead, then avoid popular places such as dog parks. If you have a dog that is aggressive towards other dogs, there is no need to deny this dog the pleasure of off-lead exercise. There are several enclosed dog paddocks for private hire in the area. (Please refer to "Local Resources" on my website)
- If your dog likes to stretch out and run, go somewhere you can let your dog have this freedom safely. Use the long line if you cannot trust your dog off lead.
- If you have a dog that prefers to bumble along and sniff every blade of grass then allow your dog time for this. A walk does not have to be a race from A to B. A walk is as much to for mental stimulation as for physical exercise.
- Treat the dog walk as an activity where both you and your dog are sharing the same experience through frequent positive interaction without the disruption of mobile phones. I see far too many people focussing more on their mobiles, or another person, than their dogs when out walking, with little interaction or attentiveness between dog and owner. This is a good way of eroding any off-lead control.
- When letting your dog off lead, ask your dog to sit and clip the lead off and then give your dog a treat for sitting with you and then briskly step off in the opposite direction to the way your dog is going. As soon as your dog turns round and catches up with you deliver another treat.
- Whenever your dog strays a bit too far from you, change direction without alerting your dog and when your dog comes after you, deliver a treat. You may have to repeat this very frequently if you have dog that tends to run off too far from you. Remember that distance erodes any control you may have over your dog, especially the recall.
- Within the first 5 minutes or so of off-lead walking spend 2 minutes engaging with your dog in some form of positive training (whatever was on your mental plan). Finish with a minute or so of play with a toy and then let your dog have some free time.
- Intersperse free time with short bursts of training for a minute or so and some play with a toy. We all have busy lives and the walk is an ideal and protected time where you can do a little training.
- Bring a portion of your dog's breakfast/dinner with you and scatter this in the grass for your dog to hunt around for. Sometimes drop the odd kibble close to your feet and cue your dog to "find it". This will help satisfy the keen hunter rather than the dog going self-employed hunting wildlife away from you.
- Don’t attempt to recall your dog from an impossible situation for which your dog has not been trained. Know your dog’s limit and don’t expect the impossible. If your dog has not been trained to come away from another dog or to not chase rabbits or birds, then don’t use your precious recall, be it verbal or whistle. Your dog won’t come back to you and all you achieve is to seriously undermine the recall and any training you have done so far. Just go and get your dog and don’t be upset with your dog!
- Keep an eye on the environment and rather than letting your dog get in to trouble by chasing wildlife or rushing off across a field to see other dogs, walk the other way or temporarily clip your dog on a lead. This can avoid frustration or embarrassment on your part and will help to prevent bad habits forming.