The Leashed Walk
Walking the pack
Leash walking your dog is the most important thing you can do for your dog. It provides an outlet for his physical energy, it reinforces the natural Leader-Follower relationship between handler and dog, it helps strengthen your bond with your dog, and it provides endless opportunities to train him—think of it as a mobile classroom.
When you’re out walking with your dog, he’s looking to you (the Leader) for guidance: how fast to walk, when to stop, whether he may greet another dog, etc. By giving him that guidance, you’re teaching him what choices he may make as a Follower in your pack. You’re teaching him the self control which will keep him out of trouble and bolster the trust and respect between you. And with enough practice you can train your dog to be trustworthy off-leash—an enjoyable and practical demonstration of your leadership!
“But I have a big backyard for my dog to run around in!”
It’s not the same as a walk because it provides no structure. Your dog can just do whatever he wants: dig in the flower bed, bark at the neighbors’ dogs, try to jump the fence, or scratch at the door trying to get back inside. Yes, he will burn off some of his physical energy by racing around the yard etc., but the complete lack of structure means he’s not getting the mental challenge that the leashed walk provides. And don’t kid yourself: being in the backyard for hours alone is exactly as boring as it sounds. Separating a dog from his pack (you) is the opposite
of providing for him. So put your shoes on, grab the leash and get out there WITH your dog!