Pug Lying Down in Resignation on Wooden Floor with skirting board in background
Dog Behaviour

How can you help your dog during COVID19 lockdown and after?

Hi Guys so we are in the midst of the COVID 19 lockdown, I have been putting off writing anything about this subject because we was not quite sure how long it was going on but I think unfortunately lockdown will not be ending anytime soon. I have had lots of thoughts running around in my mind that you might have concerns with and what concerns I have regarding when lockdown ends for your dog. Socialisation, separation and concern about overtired/over aroused dogs are all covered below.

Firstly I have pulled out some key points from the British Veterinary Association their info graphics are below too. The current strain of Coronavirus is a result of Human-to-human transmission, there is absolutely no evidence that companion animals can spread the disease. Current evidence suggests Covid-19 has a wild animal source however this still remains under investigation. It is also thought it might be possible the virus could be carried on fur from humans that are infected/carrying the virus, for a short period of time in the same way it is on other surfaces, such as tables and doorknobs, this could apply to their harnesses as well. The main advice for animal owners is continue to practise good hand hygiene by washing your hands thoroughly (for 20 seconds with soap and water) after touching your pet and also not letting them interact with other dogs or people that do not live with you. If someone else is walking your dog for you for what ever reason, please carefully still follow social distancing rules and hygiene advice. Have a bag with all your dog equipment in, that you do not need to touch and the dog walker can take and bring back.

All veterinary practices are now required to limit face-to-face contact with clients. This means running an emergency care and emergency prescription service, some are still providing food and doing necessary vaccinations but this is branch dependent. So avoid putting your dog at unnecessary risk.

Pets and corona virus advice from royal veterinary college
RVC Someone walking your dog during COVID 19 advice


If you run out of food dogs can eat human food they did evolve from our discarded food after all! However try and find alternative healthy complete dog foods, if you can rather than making your own, often getting the balance right of nutrients and what your specific dog needs is difficult. It’s always good to add fresh veg and fruit (in moderation) to your dogs dinner a minimum of 3 times a week anyway, this helps with gut health, a healthy gut helps with behaviour too! If you have to change food try and do it gradually if possible, I know this might be difficult don’t worry if it’s not feasible it just to avoid tummy upset. If your dog is on a special diet speak to your vet to see if they can suggest a good alternative. If you are struggling with costs http://www.trussellstrust.org are able to provide pet supplies for people who need it.

Difficult time for all

Lady with hands covering face depicting stress with someone else hands on sides of head

I know this is a stressful time for all of us but believe it or not it will be for our dogs too. Dogs pick up on our mood state so if the behaviour has changed it can be due to this, be mindful to try and take them out when you are feeling not so tense, as handling of the lead can then change the walk and can be unpleasant for your dog and in turn you, as they are likely to pull more or be hyper vigilant to things in the environment if the lead is tense. Some dogs will love you being home but others will be overwhelmed because everyone is there all day, they may not be getting the rest they need. There will be more people interacting with the dog, whether it’s kids constantly playing or teasing them or multiple adults managing unwanted behaviour, if this is not managed right you can have a stressed dog on your hands. Overtired, overexcited or frustrated dogs can lead to bites, statistic are usually higher during school holiday periods so this isolation period will be no different.


Dogs do appear to have an inbuilt time clock seeming to recognise the difference between week days and weekends (our actions and body language is more likely what influences this the most) however if we treat everyday as a weekend when lockdown is over some dogs are going to struggle. Each dog is different when it comes to routine sometimes a strict adherence to routine creates anxiety issues when all of a sudden they have a day where the routine gets thrown out the window, dogs which suffer from separation anxiety or isolation distress, are extremely aware of routine events that predict your leaving, which triggers their anxiety. What I am mainly suggesting is stick to a version of your normal routine for your working week, feeding your dog when you normally would and walking them. Obviously this will be different if you have a dog sitter but you can do activities in the same way without the socialisation aspect. Don’t walk your dogs more than you usually walk them unless you can sustain this after lock down otherwise when it’s over they will find it difficult when you go back to work, this is unfair and definitely do not make them walk more if they are refusing. Change for the future is inevitable things will not be exactly the same when restrictions are lifted, dogs do adapt but their are somethings to consider for getting through this period with ease for both parties.


Ginger and white senior collie x sleeping on bed in sunlight with door in background

I have just posted a very detailed video on YouTube on this specific subject “Is your dog getting enough sleep” but some key points are below. With everyone home everyone may be interacting with your dog more than normal but be mindful sleep is vital to mood state dogs should be sleeping through the night and having regular undisturbed good quality naps in the day. Children and adults should be leaving the dog alone when they are resting or sleeping. Puppies need around 18-20 hours sleep and adult dogs need around 12-14 hours of sleep a day. Lack of rest and sleep can effect behaviour.

Alone Time

If you do not normally work from home, some separation and being unavailable is going to be important for your dog at this time, even for the people that do, you are probably at home more than normal. Absence from your dog is important for the ones that used to it but even for the ones that are not like those of you that have new puppies or ones that have existing separation related problems the following exercises will help:

  • Provide searching and foraging activities in a different room/garden than you are in (safe activities of course) not shutting them in there unless they are comfortable with this, just aiding with a little separation from each other. There is a link further below for lots of ideas but one simple foraging activity is to put out lots of cardboard boxes in a group on the floor or a box filled with safe recycling items in and scatter their dinner or healthy treats, for them to sniff out and find (for nervous dogs make it easy with not to many boxes or items to start with) put out a snuffle mat at the same time, if you have one too and leave them to it no encouraging or cheering them on, the idea is they decide if they want to and they can choose to be away from you.
  • If you have a Kong another option is to put a rope through the small hole end of it and tie a knot. Stuff the Kong with something they have to lick, then tie the long end of the rope to a piece of secure furniture (with no risk to the dog) in a different room again where you are not, I usually suggest having something comfortable for the dog to lie on, near it. If you have a chewer or a dog that gets easily frustrated this might not be the right activity for them.

If you do not normally work from home, some separation and being unavailable is going to be important for your dog at this time, even for the people that do, you are probably at home more than normal. Absence from your dog is important for the ones that used to it but even for the ones that are not like those of you that have new puppies or ones that have existing separation related problems the following exercises will help:

  • Provide searching and foraging activities in a different room/garden than you are in (safe activities of course) not shutting them in there unless they are comfortable with this, just aiding with a little separation from each other. There is a link further below for lots of ideas but one simple foraging activity is to put out lots of cardboard boxes in a group on the floor or a box filled with safe recycling items in and scatter their dinner or healthy treats, for them to sniff out and find (for nervous dogs make it easy with not to many boxes or items to start with) put out a snuffle mat at the same time, if you have one too and leave them to it no encouraging or cheering them on, the idea is they decide if they want to and they can choose to be away from you.
  • If you have a Kong another option is to put a rope through the small hole end of it and tie a knot. Stuff the Kong with something they have to lick, then tie the long end of the rope to a piece of secure furniture (with no risk to the dog) in a different room again where you are not, I usually suggest having something comfortable for the dog to lie on, near it. If you have a chewer or a dog that gets easily frustrated this might not be the right activity for them.

Those of you that have puppies that you are concerned about or a dog that struggles to be alone and you are worried about the impact, this is actually a good time to work on separation. The first thing we as behaviourists would advise is not to leave them alone at all and build on separation within the house and them being relaxed first, working in leaving them for seconds rather than minutes.

As well as the above points other places to start would be:

  • Within the house just going to simple places like the toilet or shower and closing the door. If they struggle and get distressed about this in anyway, have a treat pot in the toilet, pick up a handful, drop treats outside toilet door and shut the door every time you need to go.
  • When you need a bath or shower have a kong/chew ready and ask them to lie down on the bed whilst you go to the shower. If you have a dog/puppy that does get distressed leave the door open building on closing it but giving them an activity to do in another room close to the shower.

The important thing with separation training is you going in casually and come out casually. This is what you eventually need to do when leaving the house, this is not about ignoring them it’s about making it no big deal, so it’s normal. You do not want to be adding to how they feel, if you come out saying “I am so sorry I left you” verbally or in your body language, showing any anxiety yourselves, your dog will get distressed because you are.

Teaching a settle on a bed or blanket is also something that is useful to work on. You build on duration first and them truly relaxing and then build in doing short activities around them cleaning or when cooking building in distractions whilst they are still relaxed there. You would then work on distance but not aiming for the front door first, aim for them being at the kitchen door whilst you are at the cooker. Distance will be first before out of sight, before starting out of sight I always suggest to get a dog monitor or application if you have a smartphone and tablet, this enables you to watch for some of the subtle signals dogs give way before they start panting, becoming hyper vigilant, tense whining, barking or howling, you want to return to them before this whilst they are still chilled and relaxed. Do not force confinement or let them cry/whine/bark until they are quiet, this is outdated information it causes anxiety and high stress levels.

Periods of unavailability are important to, think about an activity you usually do and when you do it you dog often goes and rests away from you. Common times this happens (depending on the dog) are when you are on the phone, computer or reading a good book, you are usually completely unavailable and your dog often knows this because your body language indicates it. No eye contact, often looking away doing something else, so they often settle and rest, some almost relieved. It’s important to do activities where you are unavailable you cannot however fake this, you need to just go and do something else in the house. If you think about puppies we are on their case all the time watching them incase they wee or chew something and because of this some find it very difficult to settle in our company and this happens to adult dogs too, being unavailable sometimes is good to give your dog permission to just chill out.

If your dog is used to you going out if you can go out without them, I know there are limits around this but some alone time is important.


To start with there is such a thing as too much play, contrary to popular belief play often does the opposite to tiring a puppy/dog out, it usually makes the dog or puppy over aroused, some frustrated because of how we play and we often play for far too long particularly with puppies, which can make them over tired, nippy and restless or worse. This lockdown is leaving some people bored, be careful not to over do it with your dog, there needs to be a balance between play, eating, sleeping, resting, mental and environmental stimulation and training. Some of the signs of play has gone on to long or the dog is over aroused are as detailed in the below images from the vet behaviour team, you want to end the game way before these occur:

Obviously yes it is important to make time to play with your dogs for short periods but not at times where you need to work or do stuff or you will have a dog that pesters you all the time. Do not leave kids playing unattended watch how the children are playing with the dog. It’s important if the dog is sitting just chewing on the toy or moving away with it that no one tries to grab the toy off them

Rather than constantly playing ball which can be over arousing, be careful of football too, play other games that provide them outlets for natural behaviours such as:

  • Searching for the ball; if your dog knows a stay ask them stay, throw the ball into long grass, count to 5 then release them to find it. Leave patches of grass to grow long for this game in your garden as well.
  • Hide a toy in the house or garden and then let your dog in/out to find it. For newbies make easy.
  • Tug ensure they win, ensure they are bringing it to you, when you are trying to instigate a game remember to use the toy as if it is prey, don’t waggle it in their face prey doesn’t do that, run it along the floor in zig zag movements keeping it low. Be careful not to make the game frustrating and ensure they are bringing it back to you, don’t grab it off them if they just try to take it away its not an invitation to take it.

Like us, dogs don’t enjoy being teased, nor do they understand the difference between our toys and theirs, so it’s best to keep any toys they shouldn’t play with safely out of their reach.

Outlets for natural behaviours

Dogs need outlets for their natural behaviours and what each dog likes is different. Digging, searching, hunting, foraging, sniffing, chewing, water play are all examples of what dogs need and there are lots of ways this can be done during this period. Searching for treats or scattering their dinner is just one way to tire them out as sniffing is stimulating to some dogs and often very tiring. Enrichment done right is actually what tires dogs out, this also will help prevent your puppy/dog becoming bored, restless and getting up to mischief. Here is a great blog for 100 days of enrichment whatever you choose it should be stimulating and not frustrating, each dog is different always start with easy stuff first particularly for dogs that’s are fearful or lacking confidence.


Each person in the household can go out with the dog once a day but this should only be for the dogs who are used to it or you can continue this in the future. If there are not multiple people in the house make the walk longer and focus on really good quality sniffing and what they enjoy, this is the tiring bit. Dogs that are used to being off lead, avoid situations where they interact with other dog or people as it could mean you break the social distancing rules because you have to go and get them. Instead keep them on lead but clip them on a different point on their lead or change to a slightly longer lead to imitate being off and work on just letting your dog take the lead, as if they are off lead let them take you on an adventure. If you control the snifari walk then you may start to build in frustration and could trigger behaviour problems in the future.


A lot of people are worrying about the lack of socialisation for their dog or puppy at this time but I myself am really not. I think for most dogs this is actually a blessing. Firstly if you have a dog that is anxious or stressed out normally on walks, do not start taking them out more than usual particularly as people are looking different at the moment this will add to their anxiety unless your road is much quieter now. Those of you with puppies social distancing is good and I recommend this in generally anyway for all puppies, for the unsure puppies distance is important to make them feel more confident this allows them to observe at a distance without being overwhelmed and choose whether to investigate, it also allows the over friendly puppies to read people and other dogs body language from a distance when they are saying I am not interested. Puppies that are not used people you can do exercises at home where you dress up getting them used to different out fits, hats, high visibility wear, glasses, fancy dress and of course masks most dogs may find these a little odd. Do take your puppies out at different times of the day.

For those dogs that are socialites and struggle keeping a distance this is the perfect time to really work on rewarding disengaging from dogs, don’t try and get their attention when they see them just wait until they do disengage and pay them a lot with multiple treats to their mouth and ground as you are moving away, no pulling them, even if this takes time, the trick is to stay at distances where they can disengage. Have a really good game after the walk with them, these are the dogs that may need play increased slightly.


For those of you that have a dog that needs regular grooming, ensure you do this daily particularly if you usually rely on a groomer. It’s actually a great time to help them feel comfortable with it giving them short sessions and giving the choice to stop too. Pairing treats at every step even if it’s every brush and a tasty chew at the end, always give them other options when grooming put boxes, snuffle mats and kongs with food around during the session to allow them to have breaks. This is a great way to do regular check overs with your dogs.

My final note is like us dogs will get through this crisis, things will be different and there behaviour might change too but hopefully some of the above will help prevent this. Of cause if you are having specific behaviour problems and would like some advice I and many other trainers and behaviourist are still doing telephone, virtual-video sessions for training and behaviour and I do have a five week puppy course for those who have puppies and are concerned which I am now tailoring subjects to get puppies through this period.

Check out my website http://www.johinds.com for more details.

I am signing off now, really missing seeing and interacting with all your canine companions.

Please keep safe and take care.


Dog Behaviour

Is there such a thing as oversocialisation?

As a dog trainer and behaviour advisor that works on a one to one basis with my clients, I spend a lot of time in areas where people regularly socialise their dogs, whether that’s is a local park that consists of a rectangular patch of grass with a park in like Warrender, the woods, busy places like Ruislip Lido or Rickmansworth Aquadrome, country parks like Black Park, Langley Park, Denham Country Park, Large green spaces like Horsenden Hill or just a local walk round the block. One thing that is for sure is there is a huge dog owning community. As a behaviour advisor I know you have to look at every dog as an individual, every dog I come across or work with have completely different back grounds and upbringings which can also vary between dog to dog within the same household. One type of dog that has inspired me to write this blog is the number of Street Dogs I am now seeing as clients, most of the ones I have seen so far have lived on the streets so it’s vital that they can communicate effectively with other dogs, they mostly avoid conflict as much as possible as they need to stay uninjured and healthy to survive. These dogs come over here I find often have excellent body language but do find our dogs difficult to interact with initially, which can make the Street dog appear unsociable.

Dogs socialisation varies hugely, you can take 5 dogs that have all been to the same socialisation classes but all 5 could have a had a different experience; depending on their own emotional state generally and during the class, how the other dogs were, how their guardians handled them in the class, the guardians emotional state at the time, if anything spooked them in the class, stress that they had been through a few days before the class and so much more.

One piece of bad advice that goes around is, that you should let dogs get on with it “they will sort it out themselves”. This is a massive mistake and hugely unfair especially on puppies that are just finding out about the world of dogs and the different kinds of dog breeds there are, if they go down the park and get in trouble by every dog, do you think that they will continue to want to socialise with dogs. Using an older dog as a stooge dog, putting them in a position which makes them have to tell other dogs to back off is unfair too. Older dogs are sometimes in pain, do not have as much energy to play or interact anymore, which means they are far less tolerant understandably and what about the dog that has been attacked previously should they just be left get on with it with a dog that is intimidating them or over aroused and won’t take no for an answer. I am finding there are lots of dogs out there that play inappropriately and some owners, dog walkers and dog sitters do not recognise what is appropriate and what is not.

Now I can hear some people say they are dogs they will work it out, they will soon learn when another dog has had enough and this may have worked for your one particular dog. Unfortunately this is not always the case, I deal with many dogs thats companions have taken exactly that approach, with regards to their interaction with other dogs. You have the ones in the park that are allowed to run up (or can’t be stopped) to any dog whether the dog is on or off lead, these dogs are usually over aroused and often do not read other dogs body language well or are not sure how to interact so end up over the top. Now firstly if this dog has run up to an owner that has a dog that is not comfortable with other dogs not necessarily one that may fight (which generally stems from fear) but I mean the ones that throw them selves on their back and if that fails tries to get away as quickly as possible. This can be pretty traumatic for both dog and owner, leaving them in a state of stress for a few days or more. The dogs that bark and try to instigate play with every dog not leaving them alone, these dogs usually have played like this or have been allowed to play inappropriately with other dogs that play in the same way, allowing them to practice and be proficient in play that is not suitable with most dogs. On top of this we have breeds that are bred that can be over social, crosses that have low frustration tolerance and more.
What’s not fair is these dogs often can be turned on regularly by other dogs and eventually can understandably get very offended when another dog growls, barks or bite to indicate they don’t want to play. I am then often called in to see the inappropriate player type dogs, as they have now started to understandably react back over time; as they are frustrated that the other dog didn’t play, appearing confused why they keep getting into trouble, they can often appear unpredictable and end up fighting during play due to high stress levels.

Now this is no fault of the dog guardians out there, it is likely that no one has told you what is appropriate or inappropriate, our gut instincts usually do but we often ignore this because of pressure other dog guardians put on us, they might say they are ok leave them be etc.. especially if you are a new owner as you will feel other dog owners know more than you. I will let you into a secret shh “just because someone has had dogs for thirty years, does not mean they have been getting it right or that they are an expert in dog body language” the average dog owners do not know the subtle signals dogs give way before they growl bark and bite.

Let’s have a look at Play and what to look out for:

Questionable Play
Best to call your dog to you positively before things go too far. If you are not careful this could lead to fall out.

  •  If one dog is always being picked on and there is more than one other dog involved, this should be stopped.
  • Tugging and dragging the other by the collar, harness or body parts
  • If the chasing is mis-matched and one dog is trying to hide or get away, this type of play needs to be interrupted, always interrupt positively.

Inappropriate Play
Interrupt positively and move away

  •  Biting of the neck or other parts of the body.
  • Barking at the other dog, especially in their faces.
  • Bullying the other dog to play
    Humping, this is done by both sexes, it does not mean sex, it is often a sign of anxiety
  • Air snaps. This is I don’t want to continue
    Standing with his head over the other dogs shoulders.
  • Stalking
  • Body slamming. NO WAY. Not appropriate.
  • Pinning or mouth round neck
  • Dogs forming a gang
  • Unsupervised play

Sometimes it’s difficult to interrupt as both dogs will be concentrating on where the play may lead so try and wait for natural breaks in the play. The moment you get their attention call them over and then move on with your walk.

If another dog has run over to yours and yours clearly does not want to play i.e. looking away, turning away, walking away sniffing as if they are doing something else try and increase the distance between you and the other dogs owner, by moving in the direction you want to go this will help the dog (and the other owner) get a clear message both you and your dog do not want to engage and don’t be afraid to say “please can you get your dog”.

Play bows are also not always a sign to indicate they want to continue playing, sometimes it seems to be used to defuse a situation that might appear to be getting out of hand.

Appropriate Play
This is reciprocated and there is a give and take aspect. The dogs are having fun. Dogs have relaxed body language and may appear a bit “goofy”. Playing chase is a sharing opportunity, where they may take it in turns. Do a consent test if you are not sure: hold the chaser and see if the other dog still wants to engage in play.

We often leave our dogs far to long playing, which means they become hyper aroused and find it difficult to calm down, if anyone knows what an overtired toddler is like it’s exactly the same. Some dogs even though you can see they are exhausted will not let up. These are usually the hyperaroused dogs or the ones with addictive personalities!

The problem is society put high unrealistic expectations on dogs, that they should get on with every dog they meet. This means we put a lot of pressure on dogs to socialise without really understanding what is appropriate and what is not. We don’t get on with everyone, there are people that can frustrate us or anger us and this is what happens with dogs. The first thing everyone does is tries to expose their puppy as much as possible to as many dogs as possible including going to puppy parties, having friends over with dogs, meet ups, dog walkers and more often this is too much. Some dogs just are not interested in playing with other dogs especially strangers, we don’t chat or play with all the strangers we meet, don’t force dogs to be social if they are not interested if however they are showing that they are uncomfortable by growling, barking or biting seek professional help. All interactions should be about choice and going at your puppies or dogs pace without pressurising them.

What I aim for and I explain to the clients I work with are the nice “hi” sniff butts “bye” interactions where the dogs have a short relaxed interaction like we do, when we politely say “hello” to our neighbours when we pass them by or where we exchange small pleasantries and move on. Standing in the middle of park chatting to other owners, or dog walkers that stand stationary whilst the dogs rough house for long time, is what I avoid, this often causes over arousal if you stand back and look at the group of dogs at least one of them often actually want to move on with their walk not stand stationary, after all there is so much more to explore. Standing in a group is unfair on the dogs that don’t want to be played with or have had enough. This kind of stress can send the dogs back home in a adrenaline filled hyper-aroused state, which means they sometimes find it difficult to relax. Sniffing and interacting with the environment is far more important for dogs for their emotional well being and tires them.

The owners that are naturals have it right you know the ones they just walk their dogs without thinking about it, they will say a brief “Hi” whilst continuing to walk their dog, their dogs often have great body language and interact with other dogs briefly but politely and may have a short brief play, which is much more like the interaction of how dogs are that live on the street and why there often is not as much conflict.

Let’s all aim for short polite relaxed interactions!

Dog Behaviour, Dog Training

10 Reasons why dogs pull

Ever wonder why some people just struggle to stop there dog pulling, even though they have been to many training classes. Lack of time of course is one reason, if a dog has not been taught from a puppy to walk on a loose lead, it take a lot more time, effort and dedication to correct this behaviour and lots and lots of patience!

However there are a number of reasons why dogs pull on the lead:

We pull first

Pulling against a dog that is pulling away from you is counter productive, if you pull them back they will pull forward it is as simple as that. This is why techniques like jerking on the lead or simply pulling them back, makes them pull away from you and sometimes even pull more.

We take control

If we dictate their every move on the lead, insisting on being at heel, correcting the position manually or constantly stopping them sniffing, they again will fight against you to get to the sniff that they want and in fact need, dogs get a lot of information from sniffing and stopping them can cause frustration and even anxiety. There needs to be a compromise between us and our dogs without them having to drag us.

Wants to get home

If your dogs is pulling on the way home, it is could be that either your walk is too long or see point 8 your dog is not enjoying the walk.

To get to something

Is your dog one that walks nicely until they see a cat, squirrel, person or another dog. 9/10 times this is because of how we handle the lead, over time you can trigger the behaviour because by pulling them back, you make the target much more interesting then it really is. Like toddlers you take something away from them they want it even more. We pull the dog away sometimes before they have even seen the stimuli.

Practiced behaviour

If dogs pull and we follow they learn to get where they want to go, this is standard advice because yes of course the behaviour get rehearsed, however I always look at what they are pulling for. Taking your dog out when you are rushed, means you are more likely to encourage pulling as the dogs feel pressured into just walking and can potentially put them in a sense of fight or flight. Pulling to the park gets them to the park is another saying. Often this is also because the park has become more rewarding than the journey to the park or that it’s more relaxing for them there away from busy loud traffic for example.

Too short a lead

If you walk your dog on a short lead, a lead you wrap round your hand or even standard length leads, do not allow the dog enough freedom to explore as much as they need to, so some dogs learn to pull quickly and shoot across you just to get that sniff they are longing for.

Different Pace

Your dog just the same as other people, walks at a different pace than you. Your dog has four legs you have two, your dog has to learn to match your pace and that’s difficult, this is why during lead walking training, they often drift forward to their natural pace. You try keeping up with someone that walks faster or even slower than you, you will not sustain that pace for long!

Wrong equipment

Ill fitted or poorly designed dog walking equipment like harnesses, can cause discomfort due to rubbing or preventing relaxed strides, it is like a pair of uncomfortable shoes this can trigger dogs to pull to relieve the pain. Getting the right harnesses is key see my blog poorly fitted harness blog 

and another two often overlooked reasons…


Commonly these dogs pull on the way home, pull past busy places, pull anxiously when other dogs/people/or traffic is approaching. Dogs that are scared of noises are often ones that pull, like they want to get the walk over as soon as possible. Fear on walks is something that should be addressed professionally, fear and stress can have long term health implications and effect behaviour, seek help from a professional behaviour advisor.


Dogs that have an injury, pain or discomfort can often find trotting or walking fast relieves the pressure. Dogs do not show injury or pain easy, pain has to be at about a 6 to see something like limping and about 10 for them to Yelp. Often the first sign of pain is behaviour change.

You see, pulling on the lead is not just about training, the above points are just some of the many factors that you need to consider when working on lead walking.

This is why lead walking techniques like, jerking, luring them back into position and changing direction, does not work for a lot of dogs. Not all dogs and I would actually go as far as to say most dogs are not happy walking to heel either and you know what it’s not necessary for a dog to walk to heel, or and asking them to be on the same side all the time can cause imbalances in the body as they are always look at you one side and not the other causing tension in the neck back and more and guess what they can be in front of you as well, it does not mean the dog is being dominant. Your walk should be a compromise between you and your dog, learn how to help him cope when anxious and work on a good loose lead walking technique that allows your dog to sniff and explore what they want but with out them pulling/dragging you down the street to do it.

Dog Behaviour, Dog Training, Puppy

A Walk to Remember

How stimulating is your dogs walk?

Is it round the block or the same park once a day?

Do you always take the same route?

Has your walks become predictable and stagnant?

The best way to know if your walk has become stagnant is by looking at your dog, does he avoid being put back on the lead, when you reach the car or a certain point on the walk? Along with predictable walks often comes poor recall. Does your dog on the walk, stick there heels in and want to go in a different direction. Does your dog know the route off by heart. If your dog pulls you all the way to the park, again the walk has become predictable as your dog knows you always go there.

Our dogs lives are very much dictated by us humans, we decide when they eat, play, at worse; when they have to sit and lie down and of course when they get the privilege to leave the confinement of the house and garden, and go for “their” walk. You may have a lovely big house with a large garden but it is vital that dogs as well as us get out the house and get stimulation from many different environments too. When we think of walking the dog, the main thing we often think about is exercise. For our dog however it is much more than that. It’s a chance to finally get out of the house, no matter how big or small your home is, it is still the same four walls your dog sees day in and day out, they cannot decide to leave, its all dictated by us, when and if we decide to take them. Think about it from a human perspective, when you are stuck in the house for one reason or another you can end up getting cabin fever. A walk for a dog means a chance to explore, take in new sights, smells, meet people, other dogs and much more. When you walk your dog try and keep one thing in mind “The walk is for your dog and he/she might need it more than you”. How we walk our dogs can have a huge impact on there mood state and can cause all-sorts of on lead problems, lead frustration, reactivity to other dogs, people and more.

When you start taking your dog just on round the block walks, you make the walk boring for your self, in turn the walk then becomes a chore “I have to walk the dog” exercise is important for dogs but so is the quality of walks, if your dog is not allowed to sniff, it’s not being naturally stimulated, studies have revealed that dogs get a lot of information from scent, such as when the last dog was about, what sex they were and more. If we constantly interrupt the sniffing, this makes the walk unpleasant and could make your dog anxious as its is not getting full information about the dogs that are around. Let the walk be about them. Variety is the spice of life, keep your walks interesting go to different places, woods, fields, canals, parks, lidos, journey in the car to different places, go in different directions. Walking in the same direction round in a circle in a park two or three times can be frustrating too, you walk round the path meet a dog, you walk on again then repeatedly meet the same dog, this can be frustrating for both dogs.

Now some of you may have a dog that does not like walks, they are fearful of cars, novelty, busy places, you may have a dog that is reactive to other dogs or people, these behaviours must be addressed for the health and well being of your dog, so please seek professional modern advice. These are behaviours that can be changed with the right person helping you, they should work with you at your dogs pace and help you both enjoy getting out again. If you don’t like the idea of letting your dog sniff because you have a dog that constantly picks things up of the floor, this may be because you have accidentally reinforced the behaviour, by making everything they picked up from a pup a big deal or they are not getting the opportunity to forage naturally see my Banish the Food Bowl blog for some ideas. If your dog is a puller find a good trainer to help you teach them to walk loosely on lead. If your dog has a condition which means it cannot walk for long, drive it to different places, if you also have a condition which means you cannot go far again either drive to new places or hire a dog walker

Don’t make your walk all about throwing a toy/ball for your dog either, this can actually keep their arousal levels high, which I typically hear from owners who says they have played for an hour and the dog comes home with as much energy as they went with. This kind of exercise is like going to the gym, when you have finished your work out, you are full of endorphins, which make you feel good and gives you more energy. Ball throwing can make some dogs obsessive and can stop them doing natural behaviours like sniffing and exploring. This in turn can also make them so obsessed that they pull all the way to the park rather than enjoying the journey too. This can then be a dog that is highly stressed out on the lead and can trigger other unwanted behaviour. Although it is vital to play with our dogs, throwing a ball is overused by us and is generally for our own convenience, to “exercise” the dog by us standing still, it is not a natural behaviour for them to be solely focused on a ball or toy of any sort. It often causes conflict/fights with other dogs in the park when your dog becomes possessive of it. It is normal for a dog to resource guard however it is not normal for your dog to resource aggress. I have spoken to a lot of physiotherapists and they say if they had their way they would ban ball play altogether, as it causes many injuries in dogs, sometimes that their owners are not even aware of, dogs are good at hiding pain. Dogs that are injured can act out of character and be more reactive generally. Now as mentioned it is crucial you still play with your dog, but you can play hide and seek with the ball instead, or hide and seek yourself so your dog has to find you as well, this game is a good way of strengthening recall.

Walks also where you take your dog for a jog/run with you or on a bike ride, also can be unpleasant for dogs, especially if this is the main way you walk them. On these kind of walks they are forced to run with you and can only generally stop when you decide, their arousal levels will also be high from this type of endurance exercise, it’s not particularly relaxing or stimulating, again make sure your dog is getting something out of this kind of walk.

A walk where your dog gets to investigate and explore is much more rewarding than a dog that is marched from A to B in a strict heel, when your dog is looking at you the whole time on the walk, who’s the walk benefiting, this is not the only way to stop your dog pulling their are other techniques out there, in fact in my time working with dogs, just changing the equipment the dog is walked on and allowing them to sniff has made a significant improvement to dogs that usually pull and ones that are reactive on lead. Those of you that know me, will know that for many years I have not taught heel walking and instead have taught loose lead walking, the dog still learns that pulling on the lead gets them no where and they are taught to correct their own behaviour. The compromise is that if they do not pull, they get to sniff what they like pretty much when they like. More about my lead walking technique in my later blog!

Now you can teach two different walks, as I am aware that some times you need to get to places with your dogs, you can teach one where you want there nose off the floor and one where they can sniff until there hearts content however make the no sniffing walk the exception rather than the rule!! Try not to take your dog out when you do not have much time or if you do, make the walk shorter but allowing them to sniff more, they will get more out of this kind of walk than a rushed stressful one.

You may feel you have no time for the kind of walks I am describing but you need to make time for the health and wellbeing of your dog, so miss that episode of Eastenders and make your dogs walk interesting.

Of course for those of you that already provide variety for you dogs, keep up the good work!