Shake up your routine

12 Jan 2022, 4:55 a.m. by Tracey McLennan

Routines are amazing for giving structure and predictability to your day – and to the day of your dog. The thing about them is that they can also get you stuck in a bit of a rut and make life seem less vibrant. This is particularly easy with our high prey drive dogs. It is so easy to get into the rut of keeping your dog on the lead and doing the walk with you and your dog disconnected from each other. You work to spot issues and prevent yourself being pulled over and your dog works to spot opportunities to see or smell prey. It makes for a bit of a rubbish walk for both of you.

Any time you like, you can add some trick training to your walk. You can just pause and spend a minute or two on it. Doing that will help build connection between you and your dog. It’ll also help to reduce your stress, make the walk more enriching for your dog and start to give them more choice in the way they respond to the world.

I taught my bullmastiff, Calgacus, to bow as a trick and one day in the park he was being approached by an off-lead dog – another large, guarding breed male. To make matters worse, Calgacus and this dog had always glared at each other across the park. I could see that if that dog got to us, a fight was going to start. Calgacus would not turn away from the dog. He was standing tall and staring directly at the oncoming dog. Luckily, he did by then have some great skills and options. I asked him to bow. I wasn’t sure if he would, but he did. By the time that day rolled around, trick training on walks was a firm part of our routine and I know that helped. Anyway – Calgacus bowed. The approaching dog stopped coming toward us and stood still. Then he looked back over his shoulder, turned and trotted away to follow the man he was with – who hadn’t even noticed that the dog wasn’t following him at any point.


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Hi - I'm Tracey

I am the author of Canine aggression: Rehabilitating an aggressive dog with kindess and compassion and founder of Best Dog Learning and Stuff Ltd. I specialise in helping people with dogs who have a high prey drive. I have an honours degree in Canine behaviour and training, am a Tellington TTouch practitioner, and an ACE Advanced Tutor. I am currently studying for an MSc in Applied Animal Behaviour and Training.

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