Two Most Important Types of Dog Walks EVERY Dog Owner Needs to Know

Walking your dog is a crucial part of raising and training them; thus, knowing the two types of dog walks can make a HUGE difference to your training experience.

“Doggy Dan, is there more than just one way to do dog walks?”

Yes… and my goal is to help dog owners tap into the power of switching walking styles to make the most out of dog walks.

In this blog, I will talk about the two types of dog walks, why you need to know both, and how to know which type to use best.

Read on to learn more.

The Two Types of Dog Walks: Why You Need More Than Just One Type of Walk

All walk and no play makes your dog a very irritable and restless pet.

A common misconception among dog owners regarding walking dogs is that there's only one walking style to follow from start to finish.

As a dog trainer who has helped dogs and their owners make walks effective while having fun, I know that sticking to one walking style can make your time outdoors an absolute struggle!

Because let's be honest: our dogs are playful, and the outdoors is the perfect setting for unleashing their love for fun!

Expecting them to follow one style of walking (and nothing else!) sets you and your dog up for frustration!

So, what do you do to make outdoor walks more effective? Here are the two types of dog walks you should follow.

The Structured Walk

The first dog-walking style is the “structured walk”.

Even though it is not THE ONLY walk you can do, it is undoubtedly the most important walk you should master.

Most dog owners feel this type of walk is the gold standard, the only way to do things. (More on this later.)

During the structured walk, your dog walks with a leash, and you absolutely are in control of the entire walk.

You give commands, you decide what your dog can and can't do, and your dog is expected to follow your charge.

This is the walking style that tells your dog, “I am in charge of the walk. I make the decisions. You listen to my commands.”

When you engage in a structured walk, you drive the entire walk, and your dog has to follow YOUR charge.

The Social Walk

Now, this walking style is what your dog loves!

The walk becomes social when your dog can roam free and do what they want for a time.

The walk doesn't have a structure, and dogs are more accessible to sniff posts, or check out areas they want to see.

Compared to The Structured Walk, this more relaxed option allows your dog to really have fun and socialize!

Two Types of Dog Walks: What the Structured Walk Teaches Your Dog

Walking your dog the structured way sends them this important message: you're in charge of the walk, not them.

The Structured Walk is crucial because it can solve typical dog walking problems such as leash pulling, aggression, overexcitement, and outdoor anxiety.

Sure, you will be giving your dog the freedom to roam around and freely explore, but before you do that, your dog must understand you make the calls.

And it is during the structured walks that your dog firmly gets the message that makes them say, “Ahh, I should listen to my owner's commands before I do anything during the walk.”

I actually talk more about The Structured Walk in my blog on the best way to walk dogs, the fifth in my Five Golden Rules series.

In a nutshell, The Structured walk is critical because it teaches your dog they're not in charge. And when your dog knows they don't make the calls, they relax, they become less aggressive, and they come to your call (which is an absolute need if you're going to switch to The Social Walk).

What the Social Walk Teaches Your Dog

The Social Walk is about having fun!

Here's the truth: we can't expect our dogs to spend the entire 30 minutes of their time outdoors just following a structured walk.

They're already outdoors; they need to explore, run, sniff, and play.

The social walk allows your dog to enjoy a little fun and downtime during your walk.

Which Should You Do With Your Dog: How to Know Which Walk to Choose

So, how do you know which walk to choose between the types of dog walks?

When To Use the Structured Walk

If you live in a city with limited free space for your dog to roam around, most of your dog walks will be structured (aka, dog on a leash with you commanding your dog what to do).

However, if your place has ample space, I recommend using the first five to ten minutes of your time outdoors doing a structured walk BEFORE letting your dog walk more freely.

I also recommend using a Structured Walk at the start and the end of EVERY walk to establish and re-establish your role as the one in charge of your time outside.

Before you stop the Structured walk to make the switch to Social, I encourage you to ask the following questions:

  • Is my dog coming to me when I call them?
  • Do they have spiked-up energy levels?
  • Do they tend to be aggressive?
  • Does my dog understand boundaries?
  • Have I established clear dog-walking commands with my dog?

If safety is an issue for your dog and others, I recommend staying on structured walks before it's absolutely safe to give them freedom.

When to Use the Social Walk

Your dog WILL become restless after a few minutes of Structured Walks. The outdoors is so exciting for them to stay still.

There is a problem if you wait for your dog to pull the leash before you allow them to have their free time.

Because a simple tug on the leash is like your dog saying, “Hey, it's fun time!” when you give in to the pull, you're sending the message that your dog makes the call.

So here's what I recommend you do:

  • Assess when your dog starts becoming restless. Observe how long into the walk they start pulling the leash.
  • Start the walk structured. Continue with the structured walk for five to ten minutes before they tell you to let them run.
  • Let them enjoy their social walks.
  • Before you end, switch back to the Structured Walk to re-establish leadership.

How Using Two Types of Dog Walks Can Change Your Walking Experience With Your Dogs

Perfect Balance

Think of structured walks like school time, where your dog learns the rules, and social walks like playtime, where they just get to be a dog. Mixing it up means your dog gets a healthy dose of discipline and fun!

More Fun for Everyone

Ever get bored of the same old routine? Your dog does, too! Switching between structured and social walks keeps things interesting for both of you. It's like sometimes you're the teacher, and other times you're both just pals exploring the world together.

Clear Leadership and Joy

On structured walks, you're the boss, and your dog learns to follow the leader — that's you! But you show them you're not the uptight, no-fun leader during social walks. You still let them have fun. This balance shows your dog that you're not just in charge, but you're also their buddy who loves to see them happy.

Spot-On Walks

With a clear plan for each walk, you're not juggling too much at once. Structured walks focus on training, while social walks are all about exploration and play. This means your dog learns better and faster, and you both enjoy your time more.

Fewer Problems

Mixing walks can really cut down on those pesky walking issues. Structured walks nip destructive behaviors in the bud by reinforcing your leadership. Social walks let your dog burn off that extra energy and curiosity in a positive way. Together, they make for a smoother, more enjoyable walk.

Learn How to Do The Two Types of Dog Walks Better with the Dog Calming Code™️

Dog walks are my favorite thing in the world.

It gives me and my dogs a mighty great time when done right!

However, I understand so many things can go wrong when walking a dog. This is why The Walk is a big part of The Doggy Dan Five Golden Rules. When dog walks are done right, YOU CAN BE THE ABSOLUTE LEADER IN THE EYES OF YOUR DOGS.

If you want to do both types of dog walks, I recommend you check out The Dog Calming Code where I talk more about Rule #5: Dog Walks.

Because when your time outdoors with your dog is done well, the benefits are amazing!

Doggy Dan

Doggy Dan is the founder of The Online Dog Trainer, a wildly successful online training program for dog owners. His goal is to continue to share his unique approach to dog training with like-minded people who wish to make a difference in the world of dogs. His training methods focus on creating and building the connection between dogs and dog owners, and are shared and used around the world.

One Response

  1. My 5 month old Aussie pup and I love to walk in the woods behind our home and she is learning the trails and the limits of our property very quickly. I let her stop and sniff and explore along the trails , but I’m afraid to let her off the leash yet. When will I know it’s OK? She still gets the zoomies and pulls the leash sometimes while we are walking, but for the most part stays with me. Advice?

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