We all have a ‘perfect vision’ of what walking our dog should look like. Usually, it involves you and your dog walking side by side in harmony. Your dog isn’t pulling on the leash or lunging towards everyone who passes by. It’s a peaceful walk and something that you look forward to every day.
However, that ‘perfect vision’ is rarely accurate. The truth is that walking your dog can be really challenging sometimes. They might pull on the leash or lunge towards anyone that passes by. It can be a real nightmare, which is why I’m doing a deep dive into the layers beneath all the difficulties that we have walking our dogs in partnership effectively in real life.
In this post, I’m going to reveal how you can prepare for the unexpected and be ready for anything when you’re walking your dog. I hope that this helps you to transform how you walk your dog so that it can become something that you and your dog look forward to!
Your biggest mistake when walking your dog
In the Brilliant Partners Academy, we learn how to walk in partnership with our dogs. This involves a blend of different factors including being present in the moment, communicating with our dog, beginning with the right mindset before walking our dog, and taking baby steps towards a bigger goal.
Putting all of these things in action in real life takes time. It’s difficult to have the right mindset when your dog suddenly bolts in the wrong direction and you have to pull them back before they run onto a busy road. It’s difficult to communicate effectively with your dog when they’re too busy barking at another dog to even listen to what you’re saying.
It’s one thing to listen to the Brilliant Partnership principles and it’s an entirely different thing to implement those principles into your daily life with your dog. If you haven’t built a partnership foundation with your dog in the quiet moments, you will have a very hard time putting those principles into action in times of distress.
If you’re too focused on the ‘big picture’ and you’re always thinking about what you should be doing in moments of disarray, it’ll be almost impossible to do the thing you want to do.
It’s annoying, I know. So, what should you be doing? How can you walk in partnership with your dog without letting yourself be consumed with the racing thoughts around that?
Let’s find out!
Rehearse Partnership Principles
To reach the stage where you and your dog are walking in partnership, you need to rehearse the partnership lifestyle every day. You have to build muscle memory and build the connection between you and your dog so that your dog feels comfortable walking by your side. They don’t even need to actively think about doing it because it becomes almost like second nature.
The only way you can get to that stage is through rehearsal. You need to rehearse the principles and everything you’ve learned inside the Brilliant Partners Academy in different contexts so that you and your dog are prepared for when the unexpected happens.
I like to think of our lifestyle with our dogs as a dress rehearsal and all of those little moments prepare us for the big moments. These big moments usually happen when we least expect them. They might cause a great deal of stress, frustration, and even disconnection between you and your dog.
However, if you’ve been rehearsing every day, building your muscle memory, and developing a deeper connection with your dog, you’ll be ready when life throws unexpected moments at you.
Practice Vs. Rehearse
I rarely tell members of the Brilliant Partners Academy to practice something because practicing is completely different than rehearsing something.
When you practice something, you’re purposely setting up a ‘practice session.’ It’s not ‘in the moment’ and follows more of a pre-planned structure. While this method is good for certain things in life, it’s not a great fit if you want to experience the feeling of walking through life in partnership with your dog.
Another reason why I prefer rehearsals over practice sessions is that practice can easily put you in the training mindset. You might become too focused on the training aspect that you lose sight of the lifestyle you want to create with your dog.
How to walk together as partners
When you’re learning the walking partners dance, there are two elements to work on. The first is the physical aspects of walking your dog, including developing the right skill set, learning the correct footwork, and so on. The second element is the partnership piece, which covers the emotional, mindset, and connection aspects of walking in partnership with your dog.
The problem is that many dog moms tend to focus too much on the physical side of it and not enough on the partnership side. Many people believe that walking on the leash is something that you need to train a dog. However, that’s not the case. Yes, the physical stuff is important. But it’s the partnership piece that’s going to help you connect with your dog and get better at walking together as partners.
So, don’t get stuck on perfecting your physical dog walking skills. Remember to rehearse the partnership principles as much as possible. It’s only when you rehearse the partnership mindset that you and your dog will be able to walk together as partners.
This is part one of my mini three-part series on how to walk with your dog as partners. If you enjoyed this post, make sure you stick around for parts two and three which explores this topic even further.
If you’d like to work with me and learn how to create a partnership lifestyle for you and your dog, you can request an invitation to join us in the Brilliant Partners Academy when the doors open for the next enrolment!
You can listen to everything I talked about in this blog post over on my podcast – Enlightened By Dogs. It’s episode 117, which you can listen to here.