Dog Walking 101
Longtime readers know that Lilly and I often take little trips off the mountain for Mommy & Lil dates. We run errands. We take walks in town on busy paths. We share patio lunches at our favorite local restaurants that allow pups to dine outside. Now that the weather is warmer, we try to get out at least once a week. Even with spring barely underway here in the Rocky Mountains, we see more and more people and dogs out during our adventures — much more so than in the winter. Recently, a couple of things have really started to BUG me. So, I developed these 10 tips for walking dogs.
But, first my mini-rant. Two things that bug me!
1. People who ignore their dogs on walks.
Now, I understand that my fellow rural types enjoy leisurely outings, where it’s enough to just walk through our valleys, up our mountains, across our creeks. I’m not talking about that nearly meditative experience of togetherness. I’m not (for once) talking about people who have NO IDEA what’s on the end of the leash and thereby allow their dogs to be rude or menacing.
I’m talking about people who are either on the phone, chatting with someone else, or just plodding along with no regard for the dog’s presence.
Maybe I’m too “me,” but walks serve many purposes for us. Sure, it’s absolutely exercise for both of us. Many times, it’s just the joy of being together. But, often, I keep Lilly working during our walks. In part, I strive to keep her from being bored, but … especially when we are in town, which is much noisier and scarier to Lilly … I keep her focused to control her fear better. Even if I just ask WATCH ME as we pass people or dogs, it helps Lilly cope.
So, perhaps to others, I look like the crazy chattering lady who talks a LOT to her dog and hands food over like a human PEZ dispenser, but I see them, and I think … Geez! Give that dog a little social interaction. Merely being connected by a leash isn’t enough.
2. People who use harsh methods with any dog, but especially puppies.
I watched two young women (late teens, early 20s) jerk a small, young pup up and down the path on Saturday. I have no idea on breed mix, but I’m guessing based on coloring and a docked tail, it might have had some Rottie. The poor little sweetie looked about 10 weeks old, tops. And, she was wearing a choke collar.
This was a doh-dee-doh kind of puppy. Not unruly at all. Probably too young to be very unruly anyway. Nonetheless, it required a choke collar apparently for “control.”
Anytime, this sweet pup showed any interest at all at anything, even just sniffing along the trail, it received a sharp jerk on the collar. It made me so sad.
I fought the urge to say something
Dog Walking 101: Ten Tips
- Flexible leashes suck. Use a nice leather or cotton one instead.
- If strength/control is an issue, try a head collar or harness… instead of some horrible choking or pinching collar.
- Bring lots of high-value treats to reward your dog for being good.
- Break out all the praise words you can think of to let your dog know this is a fun time.
- Throw in a few cues now and then (sit, wait, whatever) to keep things interesting.
- Let your dog sniff around (as is safe) along the trail. Dogs need to use their nose. It’s good for their brains.
- Don’t let your dog greet any other dog without permission. It is not polite.
- Rather than bomb through when the trail is busy, ask your dog to sit nicely “off trail” until the coast is clear.
- Take a few breaks to sit down and cuddle.
- Scoop the poop.