I was walking one of our furry clients the other day in a popular local park where lots of people walk their dogs. We sat down to take a break and I immediately noticed how the majority of people walking their dogs were in fact being walked by their pet. I witnessed several people literally dragged along the path tripping over their feet, some screeching at their dogs to stop, while their pet happily pulled them along like a sled dog hauling 2,000 pounds of supplies across the Antarctic. Some of the dogs were hacking and coughing as their eyes bulged with the effort, and their people looked strangely similar as they were dragged along behind.
Chances are you know exactly what Iâ€™m talking about. This â€œbadâ€ behavior may have even kept you from walking your dog and giving him/her the exercise that you and your pet both deserve.
In the wild, dogs walk for hours every day. They have an instinctive and even primal need to walk. When you are not able to walk your dog, he does not get the physical and mental stimulation that he needs, and that leads to all kinds of behavior issues. Ever notice your dog running laps around your house or yard? Thatâ€™s a pretty good indication that he isnâ€™t getting enough exercise. This type of behavior is not good for either of you. Besides the obvious reasons (your shoulders pulled out of their sockets and valuables broken around the house) hereâ€™s why (and how) you should walk your pet:
Dogs â€“ yes, even domesticated ones â€“ are instinctively pack animals. In a pack (and whether or not you realize it, you and your family are part of your dogâ€™s pack) the leader, or â€œAlpha,â€ always goes first. So if Fido is leading you on the leash, who do you think he considers the â€œAlphaâ€ in his pack? Not you. You are actually reinforcing the fact that Fido is the â€œAlphaâ€ dog. We joke that our pets own us, when in fact, many times they really think they do.
Getting a dog â€“ or multiple dogs â€“ to walk properly on a lead is not as hard as it may seem. All it takes is a little time, patience and proper training.
When you get ready to walk your dog, make sure that you call him/her to you, do not go to the dog. Give the â€œsitâ€ command. If your dog does not know the â€œsitâ€ command, teach him that one first. Make your dog sit calmly before snapping on the lead or slipping on the collar. I do not use retractable leashes in my dog-walking business, and I carry my own regular leash if the owners of my furry clients do not have one. I find that retractable leashes give the walker less control.
You need to lead the walk by going out the door first, with your dog following. Youâ€™re the â€œAlphaâ€ and your pet needs to know that you are the one who gets to decide when itâ€™s time to leave. Make your dog â€œsitâ€ and â€œstayâ€ until you walk out the door, only following you out once youâ€™ve given him permission.
Your dogâ€™s collar is an important part of the walking process. If you donâ€™t have the right equipment, you arenâ€™t going to be able to keep control over him. The collar should fit far up on the neck, which gives you greater control. Itâ€™s for this precise reason that they keep the lead way up on the dogâ€™s neck at dog shows. Additionally, I do not recommend harnesses, as those fit around the strongest part of your petâ€™s body and they were designed for â€“ you guessed it â€“ pulling.
When you walk with your dog, there should be no tension in the lead. Do not allow your pet to pull, and donâ€™t constantly pull on him. Your dog should walk beside or behind you. If he starts pulling, you need to correct the behavior instantly with a gentle, sideways tug on the lead. I canâ€™t tell you how many times Iâ€™ve seen people jerking their petsâ€™ leashes, snapping them backwards. Never jerk the leash backwards. You could do irreparable damage to your dogâ€™s trachea.
Research shows that dogs of all breeds and types that are taken for daily walks, and are made to walk beside or behind their owner, are less likely to be destructive, obsessive, have separation anxiety or dominancy issues. If you donâ€™t have time to walk your dog, give Paws Pet Care Pet Sitting & Dog Walking a call and weâ€™ll be happy to walk your pet for you!