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Should You Train & Teach Dog Before or After Walk?
As dog owners, we often wonder whether we should teach our dogs before or after a walk. The truth is, it isn't a simple one-size-fits-all. The best time to train your dog depends on factors such as your dog's energy level, breed, and personality.
Plus, shorter training sessions throughout the day have proven to be more effective. First, we need to recognize that many dogs, especially young ones, are excited and full of energy before a walk.
This can make it challenging for them to focus on training. In such cases, we recommend taking your dog for a walk first, as it will help them expend some energy, making it easier for them to concentrate during training sessions afterward.
On the other hand, some dogs may be more receptive to training before getting their daily exercise. For example, for dogs that are naturally calm or have lower energy levels, a short training session before their walk may be more effective.
You could practice loose leash walking or teaching your dog to wait at the door before heading out. Now, let's talk about the importance of keeping training sessions brief and engaging:
- Short sessions: Limit training sessions to about 5-10 minutes, as dogs tend to have a short attention span. This will help keep the training fun and enjoyable for both parties.
- Vary the activities: Mixing up different training activities, such as sit, stay, and recall, helps keep your dog interested and engaged.
- Use positive reinforcement: Always reward your dog for their efforts using treats, praise, or petting. This encouragement will motivate your dog to learn more quickly.
When it comes to leash training, practice in a low-distraction environment at first, such as indoors or a quiet area outside. Allow your dog to get used to wearing a leash by letting them walk with it attached for a few minutes before starting. Gradually increase the walking distance as your dog becomes comfortable with the leash.
Teaching Your Dog Before The Walk
As dog owners, we often find ourselves wondering if it's better to teach our dog before or after a walk. We'll explore the benefits of teaching your dog before the walk and provide some useful training techniques.
Training your dog before a walk can be a great way to provide mental stimulation for your dog's brain. Many dogs get excited and energetic before going on a walk, which means their minds are more receptive to learning.
We recommend starting the training session at least thirty minutes before the walk to ensure your pup doesn't become too tired or overwhelmed.
To train your dog before the walk, it's best to focus on specific behaviors, such as loose leash walking or sitting position. You can follow these steps to get started:
First, ensure your dog is comfortable with its leash. Place the leash on your dog and let them explore the feeling of having it attached.
This helps your dog get accustomed to the leash without associating it with the excitable antics of going for a walk. Plus, your dog will associate dog walks with certain behaviors.
Start by teaching your dog essential commands such as "sit," "stay," and "heel." These commands are useful not only during the walk but also during day-to-day interactions with your dog. Don't forget to use treats and praise as a reward for good behavior.
Loose Leash Walking
Once your dog is comfortable with the leash and essential commands, begin working on loose leash walking. This means teaching your dog to walk politely on the leash without pulling or jumping.
Start in a quiet, low-distraction area, such as your backyard or a quiet street, and gradually increase the level of distractions to mimic real-world situations.
No Food Before Walk
It's crucial not to feed your dog a large meal before your walk. While some treats can be used as rewards during the training session, a full meal can cause issues with digestion and lead to gastric dilatation volvulus in some cases.
This is a dangerous condition often seen in large-breed dogs. Consult your veterinarian for any specific concerns regarding your dog's meal schedule.
Teaching Your Dog After the Walk
If you're one of the dog parents that choose dog training after the walk, there is a different approach. Here’s how we would go about it.
The Importance of Cool Down
After a walk, it's essential to cool down as it helps relax the dog's body and mind. Just like humans, dogs need some time to unwind after physical activity. This can make post-walk training sessions more effective, as the dog will be more focused and receptive to learning.
A good example of incorporating a cool-down period is to walk your dog for at least thirty minutes before starting any training. This gives them enough time to burn off energy and become less excitable.
In addition, it allows their body and mind to recover from any excitement they may have experienced during the walk. Plus, you can remove the dog’s leash and allow them to calm down after seeing other dogs.
Reinforcing Positive Behavior
Training your dog after a walk can also be beneficial in reinforcing positive behavior. Praise and rewards, like treats and toys, can be very helpful in encouraging good behavior.
A walk can act as an initial reward for your dog, and then additional rewards can be given during the training session to solidify desired behaviors.
For instance, teaching your dog to sit on command after a walk can be easier than trying to teach them before the walk. During the walk, your dog has had the opportunity to expend energy and focus on the leash and other distractions around them.
After the walk, their excitement will have subsided, making it easier for them to concentrate on your command and sit in a proper sitting position.
What's the Best Time of Day to Train Your Dog?
As a dog owner, you really want to maximize your training sessions. Dog walking with an animal that is poorly trained can be a nightmare, plus they don’t know how to act around others. So when is the best time for a training session?
The truth is most dogs respond better to multiple sessions each day. Plus, they have more energy before their walk, which can be a little tougher to get them to focus. This is especially true at a young age.
So we prefer to do a training session before the walk and one later in the day after the walk. You can use this same approach with dogs of all ages as well.
On the other hand, some dogs are more low-key and focus better on training before they engage in physical exercise. A good example is a dog that wakes up relatively calm and relaxed in the morning and is receptive to training.
You can start training immediately by taking a few steps to ensure your dog's leash and collar are on securely. You can also learn about your dog on the walk and how they lead or follow. A dog that controls you while walking has the personality of a pack leader.
Here are some possible schedule options for dog walking, training, and meals:
- Short training session
- Short training session
- Quiet playtime or interactive toys
- Short training session
Understanding Your Dog's Needs
Ideal Time for Learning
Most dogs are more receptive to training when they're calm and focused. For many dogs, this may be after a walk when they've had a chance to burn off some energy and explore the great outdoors.
However, some dogs might prefer training before walks, as they may be more motivated and eager to please. The key is to find the right balance between excitement and focus for your individual dog.
Identifying The Energy Level of Your Dog
Observing your dog's behavior before and after walks can help you gauge their energy levels. Some dogs might be bursting with excitement before a walk, making it difficult to teach them new skills.
In that case, it's better to schedule the training sessions after a walk when they're calmer and more attentive. On the other hand, some dogs might be more low-key and focused before walking but become overstimulated or exhausted afterward.
Creating a Routine
Establishing a routine is essential for both us and our dogs. It helps our dogs know what to expect and promotes healthy habits. For example, we can choose to train our dogs before walks to help channel their excitement and energy into training sessions.
Alternatively, we can opt to train them after walks, ensuring they're calm and focused. Here are some tips on creating an effective routine:
- Consistency is key; stick to a schedule that works for both you and your dog.
- Find the best time of day for both teaching and walking, taking into account factors like work schedules, weather, and safety reasons.
- Gauge your dog's energy levels to make the most of training sessions.
About THE AUTHOR
Mark is the founder of Everything Labradors and a husband and father of 3. He enjoys spending time with his family, including his dog Molly, a Labrador/Golden Retriever mix. He’s a big fan of the outdoors and loves to travel to new places.Read more about Mark Brunson