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Monday, December 6, 2010

Add this to your errand list

If you're like most folks, you like to take your dog for car rides when you're running errands.  You and your dog load up, armed with a list: grocery store, bank, pharmacy, cleaners, school.

Here's one more errand you need to write on your list:
Walk dog.
No, not after you get home!  Do it before or after you get your groceries.  
Do it in the supermarket parking lot.  
Or do it in the bank parking lot.  
Or up and down the sidewalk on Main Street.  
Or in front of the school.  
THREE MINUTES is sufficient at any or all of these places.

This should not be a "potty stroll."  This is a "Let's practice walking nicely on the leash from Point A to Point B" walk, complete with distractions of people, cars, automatic door openers, bell ringers, the works.

Here's what you'll get from this three-minute walk-the-parking-lot exercise:
  • Training as valuable as at least a week of dog obedience class.
  • Confidence...if it's difficult today, it will be easier tomorrow.
  • Feeling of teamwork building with your dog.
  • A leg-stretcher for yourself.
  • Compliments from people who admire you working with your dog.
  • A feeling of accomplishment; you trained your dog today.
  • Consistency in your handling and communication skills.
  • Practice getting your dog safely in and out of the car (using the "curb" command).
  • Your dog gets more socialized, more worldly which means CALMER.
  • You and your dog have an opportunity to practice manners around strangers.  (Most are glad to help.)
I now live in a rural area where it's hard for people to get their young dogs socialized and trained for the "real world."   Parking lot walks, or errand walks, are ideal.  They're free, easy, require little time, and offer huge dividends.  City-dwelling dogs need the same experiences.

Your end result:  you have a calmer dog you can literally take anywhere on a leash, because he's "been there, done that" already.

It's not enough to just load up the dog and think about doing it. Write it down on the errand list:
Walk Dog

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