MOTIVATION FOR PROPER DOG WALKING
Ok, so this entry isn’t going to have one of those life-altering lessons when you realize how training your dog has changed your entire perception of the world, but it’s a huge source of irritation for me when training dogs. Whether or not you’re a dog owner, please adhere to some of these quick tips while walking your dog and help your neighborhood be a friendly and safe environment for everyone to enjoy.
BENEFITS OF WALKING YOUR DOG
Making the decision to walk every day can result in countless health benefits for someone. If you are a dog owner, there is no decision to be made…all dogs require some form of a walking routine. The benefits of walking your dog include socialization, physical and mental exercise, and relationship forming.
- Don’t start off with long or stressful walks.
- Get excited about walks with your dog and it will reciprocate the feelings.
- Proper loose leash walking is one of the best ways to train and establish a healthy relationship with your dog.
If you own a reactive dog, ignoring or avoiding the issue will not make it go away. Whether your dog barks, lunges, or wants to play with every single dog it sees, patience and proper training can help eliminate the reactivity.
If you have an unreactive dog or walking without a dog and you see someone struggling with their dog’s reactivity, do everyone a favor and walk on the other side of the street. I can’t tell you how many times it’s beyond obvious that I’m working with a dog, and someone continues walking directly towards me with their dog and doesn’t even consider changing course.
- Allow your dog to experience the outside world at a very young age with short exposures multiple times a day.
- If you adopt or rescue a reactive dog, consider hiring a professional trainer who conducts positive reinforcement training.
- If you want to try and train a reactive dog yourself, start with quick sessions at times of the day/night that you have the lowest chances of seeing other dogs.
CLEAN UP AFTER YOUR DOG WHILE WALKING
Out of everything listed in this blog, people who fail to pick up after their dogs is by far the biggest complaint from both dog owners and non-owners. If you can’t stomach the thought of picking up the fecal matter left by your dog, please do not get a dog. I cannot for the life of me, understand how there is always multiple piles of dog waste within feet of a dog waste station!
- Place dog waste bags near your leash so you remember to grab one.
- Try to have your dog go in a common area instead of in front of your neighbor’s front door.
- The bigger the dog, the bigger the $#!&. If you aren’t willing to pick it up, please don’t bring it home.
Running or riding your bike up on someone walking a dog without any sort of warning, is not only dangerous but also extremely rude. When startled, most people will either jump, flinch, or let out a scream. When a dog is startled, sometimes its immediate reaction is to act aggressively. Even if a dog sees a jogger or bike rider coming and they continue a path straight towards it, a
lot of dogs will feel threatened or believe it needs to protect their human.
- If there is no alternative route, slow down and try to give the person and dog a warning that you are coming up behind them.
- If this happens to you as you’re walking your dog, try to praise your dog before it has a chance to react.
- When walking at night, turn your cellphone flashlight on so that joggers, bikers, or other dog walkers can see you.
CONTROL YOUR DOG
You’re responsible for your dog if it gets off-leash and injures another dog or person. The interaction doesn’t even have to result in an actual bite from your dog. I’ve seen dog owners sued for mental trauma resulting from a dog trying to attack their dog – mental trauma to themselves and their dogs. This is very important…not all dogs are friendly! I’ve conducted behavior modification training on a number of reactive dogs, and I cannot tell you the number of times someone has let their dog freely approach me and the dog I’m training without any sort of warning. Their favorite saying is, “Don’t worry, my dog is nice”. Well, guess what, mine isn’t!
- Get rid of your retractable leash and use either a five or six-foot leash.
- Regardless of the leash laws in the area you live in, you should always have your dog on leash around other people or animals.
- Come up with a polite and understanding way of saying “no” if you don’t want your dog to interact with another dog. I tell my Service Dog clients to say, “Sorry, it’s training right now.”
- We all think you’re a really cool guy because your car is so loud every time you rev it up, but please don’t do it as your passing by someone walking a dog.
- If you have a well-trained dog and notice someone else struggling with their dog, especially whenever that dog sees your dog, please use some common courtesy, and avoid the situation or get by it as quickly as possible.
- DO NOT use a shock e-collar on an aggressive or highly reactive dog! The dog will associate the shock with the event/item causing its behavior and can result in a much higher level of aggression or reactivity.
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