Sunday, July 29, 2012

Dog Walking: Pleasant Stroll or Power Struggle? You Choose!

This summer I have been walking some friends' dogs while they are away. Collie (not her real name) is a lovely dog, and really energetic. The problem is, however, that she loves to stop and sniff every ten seconds or so! I let her stop sometimes, but I have to pull her along many other times to keep up a decent pace. I sometimes feel like taking her on walks is a power struggle in which one of us has to win and the other has to lose. Either I win (we keep walking) or she wins (we stop for a nice long sniff). Surely there has to be a better way to go about this?

Photo Courtesy of
I am not the only one who faces this dilemma, however. Many dog owners are downright nasty to their dogs if they bark, or tug, or sniff while on a walk. Although I don't act inappropriately to my dog or any of the others, it is a problem with many people (and their poor dogs!). Once I was walking at a large park where dogs are allowed on a leash. I passed by some people and a woman with a dog on a leash. The dog tried to come close to me, jumping and tugging at the leash, but certainly not hurting me in any way. The woman shouted "No! No!" at her dog and dragged him away. I was just dying to scream, "No! No!" back at her, and see how she liked it, but by the time I thought that maybe I would confront her, we had already walked too far in the opposite direction. I suppose it was for the best, really-- I don't want to make her think that animal advocates are a bunch of screaming "extremists"!
Although walking your dog is a great way to give her exercise, sunlight, fresh air, a chance to meet other dogs, and some new places to sniff and explore, it also can provide quite a strain on Collie's neck, prove disappointing when not allowed to stop and sniff, and sometimes even exhaust her.
I feel that if a few considerations are made, dog-walking will become a lot more peaceful and happy.
Here are my suggestions:
  1. When possible, use a retractable leash, as shown below. This means that your dog will have to strain less on the leash. When you reach a busy intersection, you can just press the lock button on the leash to keep your dog safe.
  2. Photo Courtesy of
  3. DON'T attach your dog's leash to your bicycle while riding. If your dog falls or tries to stop, he will be dragged along behind you. If you fall, he'll be squished under your bicycle. Yikes!
  4. Let your dog stop and sniff at regular intervals, but it's okay to pull her along once in a while.
  5. If your dog absolutely detests going on walks and you have to drag him all the way, look for other ways to give him exercise. These "other ways" include dog parks, the backyard, or simply carrying him halfway and setting him down on the ground. He will be trotting along-- in the direction of home-- in a flash.
  6. Don't scold your dog while on a walk. That will just make her associate walking with negativity.
    1. I find it odd how when people are in the city and walking their dogs and someone (me) comes along, they start scolding their dogs. Do they think it makes them look like responsible owners? It doesn't. It just makes them look mean and stupid.
  7. Don't be too passive. If your dog is eating something off the ground or in danger of being hit by a car, you have to drag your dog away.
  8. Be sure of yourself, as is necessary when dealing with dogs.
  9. Don't bribe your dog with treats. This is not going to contribute to your dog's health.
  10. Only let your dog off a leash if it is safe and you know he will not run away.
If we were all good to our dogs, dog-walking could be less of a pain and more of an adventure. Let us work hard to accomplish that.


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