Are You Walking Your Dog Correctly?
Some people have no idea that there is a correct or incorrect way to walk a dog. Let’s dive into a few things you should and shouldn't do.
Do you walk your dog without a leash? Well, that's not walking your dog correctly. If you're the person who does this, you've definitely had people freak out on you and you've thought "My dog is nice and they're just complaining about nothing!" I want you to walk to the nearest mirror, point and say "I am the problem, I am wrong, they are right." Your dog should be on a leash 100% of the time they're not in a fenced in area unless you have complete control over your dog using just verbal commands and you're at a location where it's allowed to be off leash.
Your dog might be friendly, but some people are afraid of dogs and allowing your dog to be off leash and greet everyone is disconcerting to many people. "That's silly, to be afraid of dogs."
Maybe so, but what are you afraid of? What makes your fear valid, but not theirs? Somebody could've had their dog off leash saying "He/she is friendly, don't worry" just before that particular person had a traumatic experience with that "nice" dog that wasn't so nice.
Let's say your dog is nice and would never do anything to anyone or any dog under any circumstances ... what if someone is walking their dog that's not nice? Is it the other person's fault if their dog who is on a leash, bites your dog who ran straight for them? Absolutely not ... they had proper control over their dog. This is why there are leash laws in practically every town and county in just about every country in the world. "Well, my dog is well trained and doesn't leave my side." I've seen dogs trained by professional dog training competitors who mess up. I've even seen them fail a part of a trial. I've seen police dogs handled by competent handlers blow commands as well. Do you honestly think you can train dogs better than them? Of course not. Use a leash. Every time. Even if you're just walking from the door to the car with your dog. Don't be the problem, and much more important, don't risk creating a problem for yourself that's so easy to avoid with a leash and collar. It isn't worth a vet bill, lawsuit, or having to watch your dog run off after an animal to never be seen again, or be hit by a car. You don't want that on your conscience.
Next off, what about heeling? Should a dog walk next to you without sniffing around and focused on you while heeling? Or should they be sniffing around, looking for a place to stop and pee etc.? Yes to both. There's a time for a disciplined heel as in when training and maintaining engagement, and a time to let a dog be a little free to enjoy themselves on a trail or whatever the case may be. You can use two commands with one meaning "engaged heel" and the other "free to wander but not pull" heel. Or just give a dog a "free" word which means they're free to break engagement. My free word is very simple. I just say "free" and dogs I work with know they can go do doggy things. Simple and effective.
Next up, tags and tracking devices like Air Tags etc. It's really hard to get your dog back if you can't be identified or contacted as your dog's owner. At the very least, you should invest in some tags for your dog's flat collar whenever you leave the house with them. Thanks to advances in technology, you can even have tracking devices that are quite small to help you find your dog using the GPS on your phone. That's some real peace of mind and something you may want to look into. I've heard of stolen dogs, lawnmowers, cars etc. that have been recovered by police using these devices as they give a reasonable suspicion of probable cause to conduct a search, or at least to try to procure a warrant to search for the stolen property.
If you're walking your dog on an ill-fitting collar, they're more likely to slip out of the collar and get free. Make sure you have a collar that isn't worn loose like a necklace. It should only be loose enough to fit one or two fingers into the collar, and of course, a dog shouldn't have labored breathing of any kind whilst wearing it.
If you have a dog that pulls a lot and use a prong collar, it should be snug and fit right behind the ears, high on the neck. If it alters your dog's breathing at all, add a link. There should be no constriction in the airway whatsoever, but it should fit snug to be effective. I see people with very loose prong collars on like a necklace all of the time. What they don't know is, if your dog pulls really hard, or you correct your dog from certain angles ... "ching" will be the sound of the links coming apart and hitting the sidewalk. They will fly apart when not properly under tension. A prong collar should be high and tight like a Marine's haircut.
And the last talking point has arrived.
Etiquette. You have a 55-100lb adult dog. If you have a puppy, just hang on a few months and you'll have a 55-100lb dog too. Be respectful of other's wishes, and make sure they respect yours too. If you don't want people petting your dog and they ignore you, don't be afraid to embarrass them in the street and step in front of them. If your dog makes someone uncomfortable, do the best you can to make them comfortable. Use common sense and be nice to people.
Don't let your dog run up to sniff other dogs you don't even know, and don't let anyone else do that to you either. It's a great way to be on a YouTube film of two dogs fighting on a sidewalk while two owners fumble around trying to break it up. If you don't have 100% faith in your dog ... justified faith ... don't let people pet your dog. If someone asks, and you give permission and they bite someone, or even scratch or excitedly knocks someone over, that's a liability lawsuit and they will probably win. Animal Control might get involved and quarantine your dog, or worse. Again, common sense and being nice can save headache, heartache and a lot of money on lawyer fees. Walking a dog isn't difficult ... and if you are on the "correct" side of all of these talking points, congratulations. But every single one of us has seen someone on the "incorrect" side of walking a dog and it's important we talk about it and try to educate others as positively as we can!
Thank you, and if you enjoyed this article, please leave a like and share!
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GSS - German Shepherd Puppy Plush Toy
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I went from dreading my daily walks (neighborhood and park) with my 5 1/2 month old Aussie due to his reactiveness (lunging, growling, barking, pulling, etc.) to enjoying them. After I summoned the courage to put on the prong collar despite his protests and all of the negative opinions by multiple trainers, within 30 minutes he became a joy to walk, staying by my side. Today was the 2nd day I used it and 3 other dogs barked and lunged at him on our walks. He became a little edgy but stayed with me each time and never growled, barked, or got on his hind legs as he has done in the past when we met other people, children and dogs on our walks. Although he is not yet perfect, the pain and strain on my back and shoulder is now in my rear view mirror. A million thanks!
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