How Dogs Walk Their Humans

Dogs love going for a walk with their human companions. Who is really walking who, though? We often delude ourselves into thinking we are in charge.

Dogs love going for a walk with their human companions. Who is really walking who, though? We often delude ourselves into thinking we are in charge. It may be more a case of how dogs walk their humans than vice versa. No matter how well trained your dog is or how well they follow your lead, in the end they still get their way, whether by reward or the basic fact that they are on a walk with their human companion. The next time you head out for a walk, think

about it from your dog’s point of view.


Say the word “walk” and chances are your dog has learned to associate that particular word with the very fun activity of going exploring outside. Their ears lift, their tail wags and they may jump around in anticipation, barely able to sit still long enough to get the leash put on. Their excitement inevitably makes you smile and be happy to go with them. See – they just rewarded you. Now who is training who, you say? “Very good!”

Let Me Smell It!

Part of the fun of a walk from your dog’s point of view is sniffing every little thing they walk by, constantly stopping you in your tracks. To mere humans, there is nothing very thrilling about sniffing the lamp post, the leavings of a previous four-legged wanderer, or every stick and speck on the ground along the way. To your dog, however, every single one of those mundane items has a scent story that tells them who or what was there before you wandered across that path. Think of it like reading the newspaper or checking out the local community bulletin board, but in dog language.

Your dog wants to “read” every item in great detail and expects you to stand there patiently on the end of the leash while they catch up on the local news and gossip. “Walk!” you say gently, leading them to continue on with the excursion and obey your command. They were done with that particular bit of news for the day anyhow. There is another one in front of the next house they really need to catch up with. You are just tagging along to keep them company. “Heel human!”

Tug and Drag

A well-trained dog won’t tug and drag you in every direction or refuse to move when you are out walking together, but from their point of view a well-trained human will automatically know which way they want to go and head in that direction without them having to tug. Get it straight. If they could talk they would probably say something like “Hey, if you were doing your job right in the first place, tugging wouldn’t ever be an issue.”  It is really simple. Just go where I want and anticipate my every step. I’m not unreasonable.” Enough episodes of sore arms and shoulders should be enough for you to get it right. “Come!”

Potty Time

We would be mortified if our human child stopped along a walk to make their mark wherever they thought it was important to let other children know they have been there. Our dogs on the other hand, stop to leave their little treasures in the most conspicuous places, thereby making it necessary for us to carry along a plastic bag to pick up after them. The dog just does what comes naturally, letting it all hang out, with no worries. That is what we are there for, after all. It is human doody duty. “Good job!”


“You are being a bit too sedentary for my taste,” your dog would say if you aren’t traveling along at a fast enough clip on your walk together. To encourage you to get your heart rate up, a quick dart after a passing jack rabbit or a teasing cat is merely your dog training you to build up your stamina and get some much needed exercise. “Fetch!”

Treat Time!

To really fool you into believing that you are the one in charge on the walk, your dog will occasionally do something really good for you. Bringing along a CANIDAE treat in case they need a little extra incentive to behave, is really just them using intermittent reinforcement on you. They already know they will get a treat. On occasion they may test the training limits and then behave just to get the treat they want. Then sometimes they won’t. The randomness of it will keep you on your toes. “Good human!”

We dog lovers are indeed well trained humans.  Is anyone ready for a walk with their dog now? They certainly are responsible human owners. “Good job!”

Blog post by Laurie Darroch

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