How to walk a dog – Worry Free Walks book review

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Worry Free Walks by Dominic Hodgson

Worry Free WalksDo you want tips on how to walk a dog? Do you dread walking your dog? Do you make excuses to cut the walk short?

Dominic Hodgson has been where you are now – with a dog he loved but who couldn’t wait to get to the park and get off the lead to do interesting doggy things!

When he set up a dog walking business this just wouldn’t do so he spent time learning dog-training techniques from the best in the business. Now walking his – and other people’s – dogs is a pleasure.

In this book, Worry Free Walks, he passes on what he learned so you can make your doggy walks ‘worry free’, too.

Dom’s doggy style

Dom has a very light, easy and humorous style. You’ll whiz through the book with the odd smile on your face and possibly the occasional guffaw.

Dom and Alex enjoying a Worry Free Walk“Dom and eldest son Alex enjoying a ‘Worry Free Walk’ with (from left to right) Charlie the giant schnauzer, Dolly the french bulldog. Max the german wire haired pointer, Alex the German short haired pointer, ruby the french buldog, Dudley the lab. Kelsey the Samoyed, and Betty the Giant Schnauzer.”

The book is peppered with entertaining stories about himself, his family and friends.

It’s littered – or perhaps splattered would be a better word! – with the odd ‘adult’ but funny remark. And although we’re all grown-ups here – aren’t we? – it is, perhaps, not the ideal gift for your maiden aunt.

Dogs just wanna have fun

The principle behind the book is that dogs just wanna have fun. Don’t we all?

As an owner, your goal is to create a situation where your dog has more fun with you than with other dogs or sniffing out small furry animals.

Doggy challenges

Dom practising some wild agility with Lily the Cocker Spaniel

The book lists a dog’s needs as:

  • Appropriate exercise
  • Challenge
  • A suitable Diet
  • The need to feel safe

Challenge is often neglected. Treats for the sake of it add nothing to a dog except a few pounds – or ounces! But asking them to ‘do something’ for a treat turns it into a game.

For example, simply putting treats inside a Kong adds a new level of interest and challenge.

You and your dog – staying safe

One of the most important aspects of training is safety, and it’s not necessarily what you think it might be.

It’s not just about keeping your dog away from cliff tops and fast-flowing rivers, but about making your dog feel safe in their present environment, too.

Doing a dog audit

As you read the book, you’ll come across lots of things Dom tells you to do – the ‘safety audit’, for example.

There are action steps to take at the end of the chapters. These include discovering your dog’s favourite toys and food. Yes, even if you dog wolfs down anything you put in from of him, he probably still has a favourite.

Engaging with your dog

One of the essential takeaways from the book is that you need to engage and play with your dog.

I thought the whole point (or one of them!) of having a dog was so you could play with them! But, seemingly, not every dog owner thinks that way. Strange 🙂

Roll around the floor with the dog

I have many old(ish) clothes that I don’t mind getting dirty and I call them my ‘roll around the floor with the dog’ clothes. I thought everyone had such a collection but apparently not.

Dom swimming and playing in the water with some of his dogsYou can’t be precious. Get down on the floor and play with your dog – it is massive, massive fun and your dog will think you’re the best thing since sliced, er, bonios!

Dogs aren’t just for petting and stroking and hugging – or for show! They need stimulation and challenges, and by engaging with your dog, your dog will engage with you.

Then, when you’re on the walk your dog will find you more interesting than chasing small furry animals and smelling other dogs’ bottoms.

Dog training in practise

That’s essentially the method Dom promotes in his Worry Free Walks book. But, as anyone who’s read a self-help book knows, it means nothing unless you put it into practice.

To that end, you must follow the action steps and do what the book suggests. Hey – you’re playing with your dog – it’s fun!

Retractable or not?

Dom is not a fan of the retractable lead and the catalogue of potential problems he lists does, I’m sure, happen. But for the most part, only when the owner is not paying attention to their dog or is using the lead correctly.

Dom’s contention is that if your dog is well-trained, you should not need a retractable lead.

My dogs were fairly well trained although probably not, I will admit, to Dom’s standard, but I found my Flexi leads incredibly useful and very rarely caused a problem.

If you’re inattentive or can’t be bothered to learn how to use a retractable lead – and it ain’t rocket science – then, yes, stick to a normal lead.

Dom and I differ on the benefits of a retractable lead but that’s fine 🙂 Use whatever best suits you and your dog.

Dog power

Dom is also not a fan of the harness. I have no personal experience of these but I have a friend who used one with her Labrador to great effect.

As Dom points out, the harness was developed to HELP the dog to pull whereas the modern harness is promoted as a better way to distribute the force the dog exerts if they do pull on the lead. Instead of possible damage to their neck and trachea caused by a collar, the harness spreads the load around their body.

But, again, if you train your dog well, you should have full control over them however you’re connected!

Play time for dogs

Dom with Samson the puppy.The GameZone chapter lists various games you can play with your dog to engage them. Many you can do during your normal routine when you feed them or give them treats.

These core games are simple to do and teach, and both you and your dog should enjoy them.

Dom then suggests how to pull everything together and incorporate them on your walk.

A doggy bonus

A bonus included with the book is access to a free – yes FREE! – video course based on the book so you can see how Dom put his own advice into practise.

Worry Free Walks – summary

Dom’s approach to dog training is a ‘playful’ one, rather than a domineering one which some trainers use. Play is better for everyone – owner and dog! It’s a positive reinforcement method which far outperforms other methods of training in every way.

This is a super little book, an easy read and packed with practical advice – but it’s up to you to put that advice into practise.

The inclusion of the video course – free! – is nothing short of magnanimous. Considering you get the course even with the Kindle version it’s a bargain you cannot afford to pass up. (Although I do have a soft-spot preference for the feel of a real book!)

If walking your dog is a nightmare, if you’d like your dog to pay more attention to you when you’re out walking, get this book and apply its lessons. But it here from Amazon:

UKWorry Free Walks UK

USAWorry Free Walks USA

CanadaWorry Free Walks Canada

AustraliaWorry Free Wa;lks Australia

I hope you found this review interesting and useful.

You may also rnjoyin these features:

How to stop a dog from chewing his bed

Why my dog eats grass – The real reason revealed!

Should dogs eat ice cream? – What are the alternatives

Can Dogs Eat Bacon? – Or other pork food?

If you have any questions about Worry Free Walks or would like to share your experience – successful or not! – please leave a message in the Comments below and I will reply as soon as possible.

If you enjoyed this review, please share it on your favourite social media sites – it just takes one click.

Ian

8 comments on “How to walk a dog – Worry Free Walks book review

  1. I thought all dog owners had problems walking their dogs! 🙂  My dog is good when on the lead but when she’s off the lead she doesn’t want to know me at all.

     This book sounds amazing, the tips that you have mentioned make me think of my dog in a different light and how I have to tune into her needs better and play with her more. I am looking forward to some stress free walks. Thanks!

    • Hi Hollie – I think a lot of owners have problems walking their dog although if your dog walks well on the lead you’re  well ahead of the pack (so to speak)! 🙂

      On lead, the dog knows they can’t get away and is more likely to behave. Off lead s a diffrent matter. There are soooo many distractions that they have to WANT to stay close by you. And you can only do that effectively if you are the most interesting thing in their life.

      The good news is that playing with your dog is really fun! I watched a friend’s 4-year old play with their new puppy recently and they two of them had a great time. They play together  a lot and the puppy is more attached to the child than his ‘owners’. I’m waiting to see how that turns out 🙂

      Ian

  2. My family has had a dog since I can remember. While we’ve invested in training for all of them, they’ve all tended to vary in their level of obedience when off-leash. In my latest adventure, my brother and I quite unexpectedly adopted a one-year-old Husky. He was very much untrained when we got him, full of energy and super strong. It took a lot of work to get him to walk on a leash under even the slightest semblance of control. But, with patience and persistence, he morphed into an amazingly sweet (although still exceedingly energetic) companion. 

    • Hi Tucker – that’s a story! Well done!

      I like the part about you unexpectedly adopting a Husky. It’s like you went out for an ice cream and ‘unexpectedly’ came back with a dog! 🙂 I’m sure there’s a story there, too!

      Some people go through their entire dog-owning life never being able to train theiur dog to walk well on the lead – or behave well off it. As you say, it can be done with payience and persistence but I think the ‘engagement’ menthod advocated in this book is an interesting alternative. My training was a bit of both as I always engaged and played with my dogs although not with the intent the book ascribes.

      I know several dog owners who rarely play with their dogs. They feed them, walk them, take care of them but have minimal engagemnt which seems really strange to me, and I can’t imagine that either dog or owner get much out of the relationship.

      Ian

  3. This book sounds really lovely, and a great read for someone like me, or probably anyone else in my family. We are dog lovers!

    With my dog, Misty, we often create challenges for her so that she can have a treat. Often these challenges are, heel while we walk next to that muddy puddle! It’s great because then she has had a challenge, not going in the muddy puddle (which is definitely a challenge for her, it seems!) and she is also learning and getting rewarded for it. 

    This book seems like it goes through this process, with many other things too!

    • Hi Joe – it sounds like you’re doing a lot of what Dom suggests in the book! 🙂

      I love Misty’s puddle challenge. In Murphy‘s case he’d run through the puddle then expect a treat afterwards! 🙂

      If you can keep your dog engaged and interested in you (and/or your treats!) you’re half way there!

      Enjoy your walks,
      Ian

  4. Hi.  The picture of the two people walking 9 well behaved dogs caught my attention.  As it is, I wouldn’t try to walk my two dogs together.   I need to make time to read this book.  After I read the post, I realized that I do not actually play with Francesco my six pound dog very often.   More often, I spend my time holding him, brushing him and carrying him around.     Yet, when we do play – he has a great time running around.      Now my other dog, is a Great Pyrenees.  Her purpose in life is to be a working dog.   I don’t really play with her either.   Her treat is getting belly rubs and pats on the head.    

    Thanks for the recommendation on the book, as I would like to start taking Fransceo on more walks.   

    • Hi Sondar – Francesco may be small but I bet he can stir up trouble! 🙂 Even if you don’t play with him much, you still seem to have a high level of engagement which is great.

      The book suggests ways  to engage with your dog so they think you are the most interesting person in the world, not just the one who feeds tham and takes them for walks 🙂 This involves ‘playing’; but also setting them challenges – whcih they will enjoy because dogs have brains and they need to be worked as well as their bodies.You could easily set challenges for both your dogs. It’s a shame you don’t like walking them together.

      If you get the book and try some of the exercises, I’d be really interested to hear how you get on.

      Ian

      T

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