I was driving down a small street the other day; we were moving slowly, slow enough to watch a woman who was walking her elderly labrador. As I watched I was left shaking my head; first the dog had a pinch collar on which saddened me. The dog had to be at least 12 years old and each time the collar was yanked on she looked up to her owner who was oblivious to the dog on the end of the leash. The owner continued to walk and each time the dog attempted to stop and smell the roses she continued; yanking the dogs neck. I shook my head, saying to myself "poor old girl."
This is a common situation that I see while out walking my own dogs. Many people tend to walk their dog with the attitude that the dog is attached, nothing else required. I believe that in all fairness we should give our dogs a "heads up." We are turning, we are stopping or let's go, we are walking. I also do training with my dogs so that they know when we are moving, we are moving. Dogs sniff and smell, fact. That said they need to learn when it is not appropriate to be wandering off sniffing everything laid out in front of them.
Direction training; why not? I have taught all of my clients not to simply yank. I use several terms in my training and with my own dogs. TURN, means that I am going to turn into you so watch out; the dogs learn to stop, slow down or just pull back so that I don't trip. THIS WAY, means that I am changing direction. It could be any direction so pay attention. LET'S GO, this is pretty self explanatory. It means we are on the move so stop lolly gagging and get a move on. WAIT, this is a very casual meaning of the verbal cue STAY. It means to hold on, wait in the general vicinity until I offer a LET'S GO.
All of these are very useful as well as the other regular cue that I teach. Why not tell your dog what you are doing instead of simply yanking on them? Sure there are times when a yank will happen; when a dog dives into the bushes after a very enticing smell, things happen as they say. THIS WAY is probably one of my most used verbal cues; even Elsa has it down already. It is good for when you are walking on leash and doing direction changes as well as when the dogs are off leash. When I shout it out when the dogs are off leash they look up to see where I'm going and follow.
Teaching the TURN cue is fairly simply taught by having your dog on leash, with them walking beside you say clearly TURN and turn into them. It can be a little abrupt for some of the more meek types but by using treats as soon as you turn you take that negative effect away. It has only ever taken a couple of repetitions to see a dog holding themselves back when they hear TURN.
THIS WAY is a little easier; using THIS WAY you immediately change direction and reward your dog for following. With any of the directional cues you start easy and work up to a good jog with your cues. Using cues also helps to stay connected and not be on one of those walks that I see far too often; owner walking along, perhaps on a cell phone and the dog just hanging around on the end of the leash. Come on............get involved and stay connected with your dog.