- “My dog pulls me so hard when I try to take her for a walk that I suffer from terrible pain in my shoulder”
- “See these scars on my leg and arm? They are from my dog pulling me to the ground and dragging me when I tried to walk her. Yes, she is a 20 lb. beagle mix and I am a 250 lb. man.”
- “I have just recovered from a broken ankle because my dog started running towards another dog on our walk and I got tangled in the retractable leash and fell”
- “A dog charged at us on our walk and attacked my dog and I, now she is afraid when we try to walk and she hides behind me”
- “My dog really doesn’t like other dogs he sees on walks and gets aggressive towards them”
I would say each of these qualifies for an awful experience walking a dog! It really does not matter if the dog in question is a 10 lb. Yorkshire Terrier or an 80 lb. Laborador Retriever mix. Almost every client expresses a complaint somewhere along the above spectrum of bad experiences.
Owners typically have very high expectations when they bring a new dog home from the shelter, rescue or breeder. I rarely hear anyone say, “oh I want to rescue a dog so I can get dragged down the street and pulled off my feet on a walk.” More commonly as owners we get a dog because it is cute, she looked so sad in the shelter, we want a companion for our children or for another animal in our homes. We forget the dog does not necessarily come pre-programmed to automatically fit right into our homes and our lives and to get along with all our family members, friends and other pets. We quickly become disillusioned with the dog. Most dogs really do need at least some basic level of training and leadership to meet our expectations for our new pet.
So….you may be curious how we address these concerns with our clients so you can apply that to your own situation with your dog. It really is pretty easy to apply our dog training system to these situations, whether you have a small-breed or large-breed dog.
- First and foremost, advocate for your dog! Do not put your dog in a bad situation – set them up for success and ensure they have faith that you will protect them and they do not have to step us to handle any “situations” on their own. Educate yourself on dog body language to size up approaching dogs and read how your dog is interpreting situations and be prepared to handle the situation. Just as you were taught to be a defensive driver, be a defensive dog walker! As a responsible dog owner, it is your duty to keep your dog safe and out of trouble.
- Choose the right equipment for the walk based on what your dog needs. Do not be prejudiced against equipment you perceive as being “inappropriate” just because you are not educated to use it humanely and effectively. Get educated to help your help be the best s/he can be. There is no reason you should be pulled down the street. Imagine taking a walk with your dog where you can enjoy the beauty of the outdoors around you and truly enjoy your dog. Look around the next time you go to the Dentist’s office. To those of us who are not trained in dental techniques, they have some very intimidating looking equipment on their trays. Have you noticed that stuff - they could poke our eyes out, rip our skin open and make us bleed to death with those pointy and electronic tools!! But that isn’t what they are trained to do and that is not their goal in using those tools. They are trained to use their tools to keep us healthy and increase our overall wellness. Similarly, consider that the hands that deliver or tenderly caress a newborn could be used to strangle a person…again, that is not the intent and they are educated in how to properly use their “tool” for health and wellness.
- Establish rules for your walk and be a leader for your dog to help them learn the rules and adhere to them. Develop a structured walk so your dog has an outlet for their mental energy along with their physical energy. This is even more important for dogs that are crated for long periods of time while owners are at work. You will be amazed how helpful a structured walk will be if you are accustomed to letting your dog zip-zag around, stop, sniff, pee/poo/mark, and lunge at people and other dogs all along the walk.
If you are unable to enjoy the company of your dog or are disappointed because the life you expected to lead with your dog seems impossible, or if you want to learn more about our dog training system, please contact us so we can help you get on the path you want to live with your dog.