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Exploring New Places with Your Dog for a Walk or for Dog Training

How to Keep Your Pup Happy and Engaged

Five dogs sitting nicely on a bench in a park in Vancouver, BC. These dogs are thriving in dog training when taken to new locations for dog walks and group dog training classes. New sights, smells, and sounds keep dogs happy and engaged.
Five dogs sitting nicely on a bench in a park in Vancouver, BC. These dogs are thriving in dog training when taken to new locations for dog walks and group dog training classes. New sights, smells, and sounds keep dogs happy and engaged.

Tips & Tricks from Dog Training Professionals

During the month of February, Brad and I tasked ourselves in picking a new location for each of our dog training classes in Vancouver, Surrey, New West and Delta. We also tasked our dog training clients for a week to go out and find a new location for themselves to take their furry friend. Whether it was driving five minutes from home and starting the walk, or driving to a completely new city, the clients needed to send us a photo of them out. Vancouver clients drove to Surrey, Coquitlam clients drove to Maple Ridge, and each one of them said the same thing, “my dog was so much happier, and tired after we finished than during any of our other walks.” I did this with my own dog and found the same thing. The new smells, the different atmosphere, strict or looser rules depending on if the area was in the busy city, or on a trail. My dog was consistently watching me to see where I was going next, and ensuring she kept pace. When we would get home, she would put herself to bed and sleep for the rest of the day sometimes.


How to safely and patiently introduce new locations for a walk or for dog training when your canine companion is hesitant

When I do this with my dog walking clients, I watch to see what different areas trigger as a response. One client’s dog did not like being on busy streets with lots of people and traffic, however, living in Vancouver, that is not the easiest thing to avoid. So, I would take her to various spots on Commercial Drive or Main Street to begin our walk. At the start, she would thrash to the end of the leash, pull relentlessly- to the point of having to change directions every few steps, pant, and shake. Each session I slowly began to see improvements. It would be 10 minutes before the unwanted behaviour started, then 15 minutes, then it would go back to 5 minutes. We both continued on, pushing past her comfort zone. Having my dog Indigo with us helped further imprint proper protocols for being in busy areas. After multiple sessions, I would notice that it was a lovely walk and it wouldn’t be till closer to the end of the hour that this clients dog would return back to her old behaviours. Until finally, we got through a whole walk without any issues. Understand that while this took a while for me to reach this desired effect, I was only working with this dog for two hours each week. As a good dog owner, you can achieve this much quicker working with your dog every day.

Structure vs. Routine in Dog Training & Dog Life 

When it comes to dog training, understanding the difference between structure and routine is something that will allow you to have an even more powerful bond with your dog. Routine can rot a dog’s brain from constantly being forced to do the same thing day in and day out. Wake up, eat breakfast at seven on the dot, go for a 15-20 minute walk, come back inside, maybe get out for another 30-45 minute walk in the afternoon or evening. A question I have received from clients who are stuck in this routine is, “why does my dog act absolutely crazy when they get into the car or ready for their longer walk?” The answer is simple, your dog knows that this is their big outing for the day and they want to make the most of it. They get so excited to finally be free and it can result in barking, excessive salivating, pulling during the entire walk, or other behaviours that can be deemed as unsuitable. I always tell them, change the times you go out, the duration, or location.


Structure in dog training means your canine companion understands that you have expectations that they are to behave a certain way and refrain from bad behaviour

Structure means that the dog understands from the boundaries you’ve set that when they go out they are not to be pulling on the leash, barking uncontrollably, or being a nuisance. These good behaviours come from doing things like umbilical training. While the leash is attached to the dog, hold the handle in your hand.

Draw the leash through the handle to form a circle and step into it.

Bring the circle up around your waist and tighten.

You can start working on this in the home; cleaning, gardening, yard work, taking out the garbage. If the dog starts pulling in front, turn and walk back the other way. This is going to get the dog starting to pay attention to your movements instead of you always making the consolations to the dog. Dogs are very physical communicators- through body language, why shouldn’t we want to communicate with them in the same way? Letting your body speak to the dog does more for them than constantly using your words. We will be discussing the importance of not speaking to your dog for a week to build an even better bond in the next blog posting.

About the Author

Lexie Bargen is alumni of the Hustle Up Dog Trainer Course, a Certified Dog Trainer Educator (CTE), Search & Locate Level 1 Instructor in Vancouver, B.C. and owner and operator of Lex Trains Dogs.

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