Everything is more fun with a friend! Sometimes, it can be difficult to stay focused when training your dog alone. However, there are some benefits to finding a partner who’s also training her canine companion. Here are some ways “buddy walks” can help you and your dog.
Just like with a workout partner, having a dog-training partner can keep you motivated when the going gets tough. “Using the buddy system is a great way to keep yourself accountable for training your dog consistently, which is the key to reaching any training goal,” says Amanda Cornell, CPDT-KA, the owner of Accomplished Canines in Mission Viejo, Calif. and an AKC Canine Good Citizen® Evaluator.
“Buddy walks are a great way to help your dog learn to work through distractions and remain focused on you when there are other dogs and people close by,” explains Cornell. Don’t worry if your partner’s dog isn’t the same age as yours or if he isn’t learning the same things. “As long as both dogs are comfortable being around each other, the buddy walk will work,” says Cornell. “Sometimes it’s really helpful to walk your new puppy with a more experienced dog that can set an example and ignore some of the ‘puppy antics.’ Walking with another dog of similar age or experience can also be a great way to add distractions to your training.”
Set-Up for Success
Cornell suggests talking to your proposed training partner before starting a buddy walk system to ensure you’re on the same page. “Make sure that you are both clear on your individual training goals, and that your goals will not conflict with each other. If you’re trying to work on calm, focused walks with your dog, while your walking partner is letting her dog zigzag all over the trail, you may be setting yourself and your dog up for some frustration,” she adds. “If you’re new to buddy walks, try to find a place to walk that has more space, so that you can increase the distance between the dogs initially if they are too distracted by each other.”
It’s important to remember that some pups are solo artists and don’t do well around other people or dogs. For canines with fear or aggression issues, a buddy walk could make things worse. In these cases, it’s best to consult a professional trainer. But for a lot of dogs, buddy walks are a great way to up your training game and help with socialization.