Want to reduce your dog's anxiety on walks? Try this trainer's one clever tip

Young woman walking with her husky dog
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Walking with our dogs can be challenging at the best of times. If you're anything like us, when you got your pup you likely envisioned calm and happy daily strolls where you could connect with nature, indulge in some playtime and strengthen your relationship. But for many of us, walking our dogs is more stress-inducing than stress-relieving.

Even with a bag of the longest lasting dog chews on hand, walks with an insecure dog can prove highly challenging. Barking at strangers, lunging at other dogs and frequently pulling on the lead are just some of the behaviors that you're likely having to contend with if you have a reactive pup.

Thankfully, expert dog trainer Liz Foleyhas created an Instagram video where she shares her top tip for helping to make walks more enjoyable. So, what's the secret? Check out the video below or keep reading as we reveal everything you need to know.

When it comes to walking, Foley says that there are only two positions to take with your dog - leader or follower. "Taking the leadership position means our dogs don’t have to worry about protection or direction because you’re in charge," she explains. 

"Dogs are natural followers so this makes their lives so much easier. We put stress on our dogs when we ask them to lead and they have no idea how to do so in the human world. That would be like letting a toddler drive. It can be dangerous."

For reactive or nervous dogs, choosing to be the leader when you're out walking together can be a real game changer. 

"Many insecure dogs who walk in front are reactive because they interpret everything as a threat," explains Foley. "If you have a reactive dog it’s imperative to start setting boundaries in the home but especially on the walk. "

So, next time you and your pooch leave your home and head into the great outdoors, Foley wants you to remember this simple rule: "Lead or be led. The choice is yours."

It's important to remember that training your dog to walk and behave the way you want them to when you're out and about takes time, patience and consistency. If you're not seeing the results you've been hoping for, we recommend speaking with a professional trainer who will be able to offer advice and guidance that's specific to your pup.

For more great tips and tricks, check out our guide to how to deal with a badly behaved dog.

Kathryn Williams
Freelance writer

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has been a member of the PetsRadar family since it launched in 2020. Highly experienced in her field, she's driven by a desire to provide pet parents with accurate, timely, and informative content that enables them to provide their fur friends with everything they need to thrive. Kathryn works closely with vets and trainers to ensure all articles offer the most up-to-date information across a range of pet-related fields, from insights into health and behavior issues to tips on products and training. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with her family (which includes one super sassy cat), drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.