3 Effective Dog Whisperer Techniques
As a pet lover who doesn’t actually own any pets, I often dog walk for friends and acquaintances. Doing this has taught me how to be somewhat of a dog whisperer. Now, just as a disclaimer, I’m no Cesar Millan—he employs some very serious training and techniques, while I simply implement small tips that work for me. I’m not a pet expert nor do I have any professional training. But from my years of dog walking, I have learned a few tricks to help dogs behave better.
1. Walk ahead of the dog. I’ve heard many dog owners and pet experts say you should always stay ahead of your dog while you walk him. I never really thought anything of it, but lots of people claim doing this helps establish your position as your dog’s owner and leader, which compels your pooch to obey you. Before hearing about this, I let dogs stay ahead of me on walks, so I figured I’d give it a try the next time I dog walked. Admittedly, it was difficult for me to implement this with all the dogs I walked. Some responded very well to it. I noticed that when I positioned myself ahead of some dogs (I do this by shortening the leash length), they were happy to follow me, and seemed more relaxed and obedient. But there was one dog, an overly enthusiastic beagle puppy, that always wanted to race ahead when I walked him. It was a bit more challenging to deal with, but I tried. I gave him enough leash to walk slightly behind me. I only walked him a couple of times so it wasn’t really long enough to see a significant change in behavior. He was still quite excited and wanted to walk ahead, but much of that was probably because was an excited puppy. But if you establish yourself as the leader every time you walk your dog, it works. I noticed it during just a few dog walks, so just imagine how effective it is when owners implement it consistently.
2. Tug the leash. One of the dogs I take care of gets pretty anxious when he walks near or next to other male dogs. He doesn’t get violent or try to attack them, but he’ll pull on his leash and bark at them. I’ve noticed that if I gently but firmly tug on his collar while making a loud “shh!” noise the moment he notices another dog, his agitation subsides. It helps him refocus, reminds him that I’m in charge and that he needs to follow me. Also, if you remain calm, your dog will too. I noticed that whenever I felt nervous at seeing another dog approach, he would also become nervous, which would set off his barking. But if I stayed calm and continued to walk confidently, he would follow me without hesitation. I practiced this several times and after awhile, I could tell the difference. Try it on your next walk if your dog is the easily agitated type. Remember to remain calm and assertive, and give him a gentle tug on his leash while making a clear definite sound when you first notice his anxiousness. Don’t tug too hard; just an assertive pull on his collar is sufficient. Repeat the tug as many times as you need to. You may have to do multiple pulls the first few times you practice this with your pooch, but the more you do it, the more he will get used to it, and the less trouble you will have.
3. Don’t get too excited. Have a dog that gets jumpy and enthusiastic the moment you walk through the door? I deal with this a lot as a dog walker, and admittedly it can be hard quell an overly excited pooch. But I noticed that if I stay calm and don’t respond to the dog’s jumping and excited behavior, he calms down. Usually I will gently but firmly push the dog off if he tries to jump on me when I enter the house, continue walking and let him follow me. It sounds a bit harsh to act so indifferent when you greet a dog, but it works. If I remained restrained, the dog realizes that there’s nothing to be excited about and he calms down relatively quickly. The moment he relaxes, I’ll pet him. This seems to reinforce this calmer behavior, and it has worked with several dogs that I’ve watched.
Whether you’re a dog owner, dog sitter or just spend a lot of time with dogs, try any or all of these tips. Again, I’m no expert; these are just techniques that have worked for me. It depends on the kind of dog you have and how often you employ them. But if they’ve worked for me, someone who is around dogs only occasionally, they could work very well for dog owners.