Walking many dogs
Loose leash walking many dogs
Dogs need daily exercise and lots of it depending on their breed. Walking your dog/s is part of their fitness routine and should be enjoyable to both dogs and their owners. However, walking together, in a group, side by side, human and dogs, is much more of a challenge than just giving them exercise. It requires a special skill that pack leaders need to develop. Walking one dog free, off leash next to you is difficult enough. Doing it with many dogs is something not many owners are able to achieve. But it is a crucial skill that pack leaders need to develop.
Fundamentals for a successful walk
Dogs are pack animals and survived in the wild by following their leader. If the lead dog is controlled the others will follow.
You as their leader must project confidence. Always call the dogs to you. They must come willingly and enjoy your company. When owners dread a walk and expect problems to happen the dogs will sense it also and react accordingly.
Dogs learn by association, repetition and consistency. Lack of consistency confuses dogs.
Don’t start a walk with a dog that is overexcited – panting. Dogs must be calm, waiting for you to open the door. In the beginning you may have to put the leashes away because they would not calm down. Try 15 – 20 minutes later and repeat until they get to understand what allows a walk to happen.
Make sure that you lead the walk and invite the dog/s to follow you outside.
Once outside, stop to regroup and wait for calm before commencing the walk.
1. Start by teaching one dog at a time to walk on a loose line independently at your side! Your timing of praise rewards and corrections while walking on a loose leash are important.
In this way you will be able to determine inappropriate behaviour, but more importantly you can form a better bond with each dog to want to follow you.
2. Separately the dogs must learn:
* The start command “Come with me.”
* Walk without pulling.
* Stop when you stop.
Repeat this until each dog grasps what it is all about.
Walk the same distance with the same stops for a while to get them used to the routine you will follow (in the beginning) when leaving home.
3. Next practice loose leash walking with two trained dogs. They can be walked on separate leads or they can be coupled together. When dogs are coupled you do not have direct control of them individually. If one pulls then you have to check both of them which is not good for the one walking nicely. Reward them well for being in their proper positions.
4. Find a safe place to practice and reward intermittently to reinforce behaviour. As soon as one dog moves ahead of you, repeat “Come with me” as you turn and walk back so that the dogs are behind again. You may have to do this a number of times. Remember to get them to “Sit” whenever you stop.
5. When you feel you can control the dogs that are with you, slowly add an additional dog to the pack. Feed them for staying in the proper place. You can stand in one place and feed them in their positions.
6. Continue to walk in quiet places and gradually work your way up to more busy, crowded areas.
7. If at any time one dog starts to pull, stop to get that dog in place before continuing again.
8. If you allow the slightest amount of pulling the dog will learn that pulling is allowed.
9. Take your time but go at the dogs’ pace. Dogs walk faster than humans so walk at their speed not yours!
10. Make sure that you have the right equipment and that they are of good quality and are well-fitted
11. As leader of the pack you must have a no-nonsense approach to control the pack. Be fair and firm but no punishment.
“You can’t blame them if you don’t train them.”