Mastering the pack

Cesar Millan teaching the pack walk
Neal Tyler


By Jon Bastian

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One of the exercises that Cesar has everyone who attends his Fundamentals of Dog Behavior and Training I course do is the pack walk. One-by-one, everybody takes charge and walks a pack of eight or more dogs, all at once. It can be an inspiring sight as someone who had trouble walking just one dog of their own suddenly takes the reins and leads a whole bunch of them.

If you’re having difficulty walking your dog, you may wonder how it’s possible to walk a whole lot of them at once, but it’s not as daunting as it sounds. Here are three secrets to moving beyond one dog at a time.

Related: 5 ways to make the walk more interesting
  1. It’s still about the calm, assertive energy
    The biggest challenge in walking a pack of dogs is realizing that it isn’t that different than walking one dog. Other than more leashes to handle, the most important factor in keeping control is your energy.

    Don’t worry about how many dogs there are. In fact, don’t worry at all. Imagine yourself in control and walk with confidence. Don’t let early setbacks make you think it’s hopeless, and don’t imagine bad things that could happen. Stay in the moment and focus on success.
  2. Use the right tools
    Tools like leashes, muzzles, and so on, are largely a matter of personal preference. In most cases, whatever works for you is the right tool — although you should avoid using harnesses, which encourage pulling, or flexi-leads, which limit your control and can actually endanger your dog.

    An important consideration in deciding which tool to use is whether you want to walk the dogs all on one side, or on both sides. This is because some tools, like the Pack Leader Collar and other slip-leads, are designed to only be used with your dog walking to your left. Other types of training leads can be used in either hand.

    If you’re walking two dogs with one hand, it does take a little practice to be able to apply a correction to only one dog — and to the right one. You’ll find it easier if you keep the loops at the end of the leash around your wrist, only grabbing them to give a correction. The added benefit to this is that it will keep you from gripping the leash tightly, which will help to project calm energy through the lead to your dog.
  3. Let the dogs help you
    The one big advantage to walking a pack of dogs is that you’ve got help right there with you. Focus on the one or two most dominant dogs, making sure that they are following you, and the power of the pack will do the rest of the work. The dominant dogs follow you, and the other dogs follow them. This way, it doesn’t matter how many dogs you’re leading on the walk, because you’re only working with a couple of them directly.

Most dog owners will probably never deal with walking more than a few dogs at one time, but whether you’re walking one or a dozen, the process is the same. Stay confident, use the right tools, and let your dogs’ instincts work for you.

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