Spring is a great time to walk your dog

Spring is in the air – finally! It has been a long, cold winter here in Northern Illinois but the cold seems to be letting go. As the temperatures go up, everyone wants to get outside and for dog lovers that means walking your dog! I thought it would be a good time to remind everyone of what proper dog walking consists.

In my opinion, a good dog walk is one where both dog and owner are working as a team, both are getting what they need, both are satisfied with the walk, and both feel relaxed and happy while they are doing it. A good walk leaves you with the feeling, “AH, that felt good!” and a sense of looking forward to the next time you get to walk.

Now, ask yourself, how often do your walks feel like that?

Most people struggle with the walk; either their dog pulls relentlessly, acts unpredictably or aggressively, zig zags all over the place, or stops to sniff every little thing. Most people end up feeling stressed out by their walks. Add to that the guilt many people feel about not walking their dogs enough or walking them too short a time and you end up with an unpleasant experience and a mild sense of dread when the next nice day comes along.

Sound familiar?

I have ideas of how to achieve the “proper walk” and they consist of placement of the dog relative to you, length of leash, use of effective dog walking aids, and I will go into these in the next post. But what matters most of all is that sense of harmony that doesn’t come from any of those things but instead comes from a strong bond with your dog.

I dedicated this site to my dog, Sadie, who died over five years ago. She was a perfect dog – she was loving and calm and smart. But she was a “terrible walker” on a leash. She pulled and pulled and pulled until I thought my arm would drop off. Then I took her to an off leash dog park and noticed that she never walked any further ahead of me than about 16 feet….just the length of those extendo-leashes!! I put her on one of those and PRESTO! no more pulling. In fact, she rarely went to the end, just far enough out to be close to the end. She had no problems with greeting other dogs, no aggressive responses and knew “right over” meant “go to the right” and “left over” meant “go to your left”. Aside from feeling sort of silly yelling “LEFT OVER” as I was running with her it worked out great for us.

Walking Sadie & Brandy Sept 2004

Walking Sadie and Brandy in Sept. 2004

When my husband and I got married he brought his dog Brandy into the picture and I walked my then pack of two dogs while I pushed my son in his stroller. They walked way out in front of me and it worked well for us. Mostly because there was a bond, mainly between Sadie and I, and she listened and wanted to learn and wanted to do what I wanted. I didn’t have to “train” her so much as “show” her and then she’d oblige.

Sadie digs

Sadie digs on command

Now a days I don’t have the luxury of walking two dogs! And the dogs I have now aren’t Sadie. It just wouldn’t work for them to be out in front of a walk, it would send the absolutely WRONG message to them and there would be all sorts of trouble with dominance and obedience as a result. But Sadie was one in a million – an even tempered, lovely, sweet, and loyal dog who just happened to prefer to walk 14 feet in front of me. SO, as much as I hate to say this, if you have such a dog, then by all means let them walk where they will. But I tell you, don’t lie to yourself. If you are just trying to assuage your feelings of guilt by letting your dog run all over the place, way out in front of you, barking at everyone, peeing on everything and generally driving you crazy, walking them like that won’t work. You need a controlled, proper walk and your dog will THANK you for learning how to do it. So, to the 0.01% of you out there with a kindred spirit to my Sadie, feel free to skip the next post. The rest of us should read on….

May 4, 2009 • Tags: , , • Posted in: behavior, dog ownership, work your dog

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.