Giving a dog his lead
I normally called it giving my dog head, but I always get snickers when I say that, so if it comes out at some point in the thread, I realize how bad it sounds, but bad habits die hard.
Anyway, I’m curious as to how you all treat walks. For the first 10-15 minutes of the walk, I give the dogs their head (or lead, or whatever terminology works for you), and let them explore, sniff around, mark every single pole in sight, basically not giving them commands or leading them anywhere specific. After that initial head, I reign them in with verbal commands to heel and we will do about 20-30 minutes of that, and then I give them their head again and let them cool down for the last part of the walk. I’ve always used this method, and haven’t had any behavioral problems or backlash while doing so. I did forget a poo bag once, and had to walk to the door of the owner and shamefully ask her for a bag so I could clean up the poo in their yard. Sigh.
It’s always been instinctual to walk all my dogs this way. Like all the way back to my first dog that was all mine at 14 years old. My dogs have always been pets, so aren’t training for anything specific, we just enjoy our walks.
I was out walking my Husky yesterday, and was giving him his head, and my neighbor pulls up in her car and makes a crack about the dog walking me (I never allow pulling, so it’s not like he was dragging me down the street) and tells me I should train my dogs better. Huh?!?? I give them their head because they are so overly excited and happy for walks, I give them their chance to work out some of the excited energy. Then give a command to heel, and release them from heel for their cool down. So what am I missing here? I honestly assumed that’s the natural way to do it.
Does anyone else do this, or do you keep them in heel the whole time? I’m not going to change the way I walk my Husky, or my senior GSD when she has the energy to walk, but with the new pup, and her comment, it lead me to questioning a normal walking for my guys. Is there a down side to giving them their head, an upside to heel at all times on a leash? They go off leash when we go hiking, and they have great recall, it’s just the way I trained early on for walks. If I need to bring them to me during their head time, they always respond (loose dog, kids seeing them coming and wanting to rush up to pet them) and immediately go back to heel until I release them again.
Just curious what others do out there, and the thinking behind it.