Where you walk influences how you walk.
Responsible dog owners walk their dogs with extra focus and control when they are in crowded areas such as narrow sidewalks or community festivals. Controlled walking, where the dog remains near the handler’s leg, typically includes an automatic sit. a particularly useful skill when someone is approaching. This version of walking can help protect the dog if someone is approaching with an out-of-control pet or child. “Let’s go” is a commonly used command.
Another great walking skill is opposite side walking. Most owners teach their dogs to walk on the left side; however, right side walking is helpful when passing other dog owners as it helps keep the dogs further apart. Use “Right side” or something similar, along with “Behind” as the command asking the dog to change sides behind the owner or “Cross” for changing sides in front of the owner.
Right and left side controlled walking helps prevent rambunctious pets from lunging toward other dogs and humans once the dogs are trained to focus on their owners. This also gives fearful dogs more confidence as they learn to concentrate on their walking skills, instead of worrying about scary situations. Controlled walking around distractions will take time and patience but is extremely worthwhile and can ultimately lead to the achievement of the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen title.
In areas where there are fewer people and the trails are wider, the dog can be given more freedom. Fido can be allowed to walk at the end of his 6-foot leash (or longer leash depending on the location and laws), giving him more freedom to explore. “Okay, go sniff” is one way to let the dog know the difference. Teach the dog to alternate between casual walking and controlled walking with commands, leash cues, treats and praise.