Want to try a new dog walk route? Trainer shares 3 tips for doubling it up as a training exercise

Man walking his dog by a lake
(Image credit: Getty Images)

As dog owners, we take our furry friends for a walk every single day - maybe even multiple times. So, it’s no surprise that you might want to switch things up a bit when it comes to your route and location.

But for those with a reactive dog (or just one that needs plenty of training), the idea of a new environment (with potentially more distractions) might put you off. If you’re wondering how to calm a reactive dog, our guide is a good place to start.

Mattison Skoog, an expert dog behaviorist, has shared three things you can do so you don’t have to miss out on the best dog walks in the US.

Mattison explains that new environments can be highly enriching for your dog but also present more challenges and distractions. Here are her top training tips for getting around that: 

1. Ensure you have a marker system

If you’re wondering what marker training is, it’s when you reinforce good behavior by using verbal cues and the best dog treats. This communicates to your dog what you want from them while teaching them to do it independently. Clicker training for dogs also works well and involves using a clicker and positive encouragement. By having a marker system in place, you’ll have more confidence in your dog when it comes to walk time.

2. Do a warm up with your dog

Before setting off on your walk, try practicing a warm-up routine with your dog and replicate this every time. You could try a food game which will practice their training skills and draw attention to yourself. This is a great way to get your pup ready for their new adventure.

3. Leave if you need to

Mattison’s favorite tip is to be prepared to leave if you need to. Exploring a new environment can be unpredictable - there could be too many dogs, too many people, or your pooch might be unresponsive to your cues. If it’s not working for you both, the best thing to do is to go home. Practice your marker system and warm up in a more comfortable location, and then once improvements have been made, you can head back to a new destination.

Put your pup’s mind to the test with these 10 great brain games for dogs. For more dog walking advice, here are 15 helpful ways to get your dog to come back to you on off leash walks.

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Megan Milstead
Staff Writer

Megan is Staff Writer on PetsRadar and covers news, features, buying guides, and reviews. When she’s not talking about her cats, Nala and Chilli (a rare occasion), you’ll find her watching funny pet videos on Instagram and sending hundreds of them to her friends. She’s particularly interested in pet wellness and is fascinated by cat behavior. Megan has been animal-obsessed for as long as she can remember, having grown up with pets since the age of three and competed in horse riding competitions for seven years. She has had a variety of animals, including horses, dogs, guinea pigs, hamsters, and fish, which taught her first-hand everything she knows about pet care.


Megan studied Journalism at the University of Westminster, where she specialized in lifestyle journalism and was Editor of the online student publication, Smoke Radio. She has experience working across digital and print media and previously worked for titles such as Harrods, My Local News, and Licklist. As a committed pet mom of two, she enjoys going the extra mile for her cats and is passionate about helping readers find the answers they need.