I was walking one of our fur-kid 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 fur-kids, were in fact BEING walked by their fur-kid.
I witnessed several people literally dragged along the path, tripping over their feet, some screeching at their dogs to stop while their fur-kids happily pulled along their people like a sled dog hauling 2,000 pounds of supplies across the Antarctic. Some of the fur-kids were hacking, fur-flying, coughing and eyes were bulging with the effort; and their people looked strangely similar as they were dragged along behind.
Chances are you know exactly what I’m talking about. This “bad” behavior may have even kept you from walking your dog and giving him/her the exercise that they (and you!) need.
In the wild, dogs walk for hours a day. They have an instinctive and even primal need to walk. Because you are not able to walk your fur-kid they are not getting the physical and mental stimulation that they need and that leads to all kinds of behavior issues. Ever notice your dog running laps around your house or yard? That’s a pretty good indication that Fido isn’t getting enough exercise. And hey, this type of behavior is NOT good for either of you. Besides the obvious reasons (like your shoulders pulled out of the sockets and valuables broken around the house) here’s why….and HOW you should walk your fur-kid:
- Dogs – yes…even domesticated ones – are instinctively pack animals. In a “pack” (and whether or not you realize it, you and your family are part of your dogs “pack”) the leader or “Alpha” ALWAYS goes first. So…if Fido is leading you on the leash, who do you think he considers the “Alpha” in his pack? Not. You. You are actually reinforcing the fact that Fido is Alpha. We joke that our fur-kids own us, when in fact many times in our fur-kid’s minds they really think they do.
- When you get ready to walk your fur-kid make sure that you call him/her to YOU….do not “go” to the dog. Give the “sit” command…and if your fur-kid does not know the “sit” command teach them that one first. Make your fur-kid sit calmly before snapping on the lead or slipping on the collar. I do not use retractable leashes in my dog-walking business, and carry my own regular leash if the owners of my fur-clients do not have one. I find that retractable leashes give the walker (YOU) less control.
- You need to lead the walk by going out the door first. Your dog must go out the door AFTER you. You’re the “Alpha”…your fur-kid needs to know it’s YOU who gets to decide when it’s time to leave. Make your fur-kid “sit” and “stay” until you walk out the door, and make him/her follow you out when you give him/her permission
- Your fur-kid’s collar is an important part of the walking process. If you don’t have the right equipment, you aren’t going to be able to have control over your dog. Your dog’s collar should fit far up on its neck, which gives you greater control. It’s for that precise reason why they keep the lead way up on the dog’s neck at dog shows. Additionally, I do not recommend harnesses; because harnesses fit around the strongest part of your fur-kid’s body and they were designed for….you guessed it….PULLING (and you want him to walk beside or behind you…not “Mush!).
- When you walk with your fur-kid, there should be no tension in the lead. Do not allow the dog to pull and don’t constantly pull on your dog. Your dog should walk beside or behind you. If your dog starts pulling, you need to correct the behavior instantly by a gentle, sideways tug on the lead. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people jerking their fur-kids leashes…snapping their leash backwards. Never jerk the leash backwards…you could do irreparable damage to your dog’s trachea.
Research shows that dogs, of all breeds and types, that are taken for daily walks, and that are made to walk beside or behind the owner, are less likely to be destructive, obsessive, have separation anxiety and/or dominancy issues, among many other behavior problems.
Hey, if you don’t have time to walk your dog, give Paws Pet Care Pet Sitting & Dog Walking a call and we’ll be happy to walk your fur-kid for you! Our walks start at only $23
– Beth Green, Owner and Pack Leader for Paws Pet Care Pet Sitting & Dog Walking