I try to walk my dogs regularly but I’ll admit I didn’t do a very good job of it this past summer……let’s just say I was lazy.
If walking the dogs was as simple as just put their leashes on, walk out the door and “lady and her two dogs walk peacefully down the street and around the block” I probably would have done a better job of walking them………however that is not the case. A typical walk begins with Cody whining the second she thinks I am getting ready to take her out (her clue is the socks and sneakers replace the flip-flops). The longer it takes me to get ready the louder and more annoying her whining becomes. I get my shoes on, grab some poop bags (better to have extra), grab my cell phone (in case of an emergency during the walk) and then go get their leashes. All this time Cody is whining and Emma is quietly standing at the door hoping to get out without the leash. I use a gentle leader to walk both dogs….they aren’t huge fans of it but it does give me more control. Cody is used to her lead because she has worn it for 7 years so when you say “snout” she walks over to you sticks her “snout” out and gentle leader is attached and she is ready to go. Emma is hilarious when you try to put her lead on, she ducks her head and backs away and when you finally get a hold of her and get it fastened around her snout…….she freezes, she makes like a statue and won’t move a muscle. So now we have frozen dog and whiney dog ready to go for a walk. I open the front door and the fun begins.
There is a bus stop directly across from our house and if anyone is standing there waiting for the bus Emma starts barking her fool head off….I finally get her under control and we venture off the front porch…….off to a good start. There are a lot of dogs in our neighborhood and it seems we all like to walk them at the same time. I have tried going out earlier and going out later but there is always someone else with the same idea. I have one dog that barks and growls at people and one dog that barks and growls at dogs so it is a lose, lose situation for me.
Ideally I should be walking the dogs first thing in the morning and after dinner (before dark)…….but I have found lots of reasons not to all summer…..it’s too hot, it’s too late (after soccer), it’s too early (to get out of bed), my feet hurt, my knees hurt, my hips hurt, (yes, I am getting old and falling apart),I’m tired…….and on and on and on.
When I do decide to take them out I have a regular route I walk which takes me about 30 to 45 minutes to walk…….depending on the number of pit stops needed. Walking these two can be a little embarrassing sometimes…..some poor unsuspecting lady and her little dog get a surprise when all of a sudden a 40 pound Border Collie and 90 pound Lab start barking, growling and lunging at them. Emma is easy enough to control physically because she is only 40 pounds of dog, but the barking is not as easy to control. Trying to control the 90 pounds of dog is not so simple, it becomes a matter of trying to walk past the poor lady and her little “Fifi” without these two vicious sounding dogs tripping me and knocking me to the ground (very embarrassing). I am sure people look at us and think to themselves, “Wow, that woman should get control over those dogs of hers.” Awkward!!
So that is just the beginning of the walk…….as I said, there are a lot of dogs in our neighborhood and they all seem to be out at the same time. By the time we get home after the walk I am frustrated and exhausted and don’t want to take the little monsters out again….thus the excuses not to!
According to “Cesar Milan” ….The Dog Whisperer…..I need to master the dog walk.
Cesar’s 6 Tips for Mastering the Dog Walk –
- Position matters. Walking in front of your dog allows you to be seen as the pack leader. Conversely, if your dog controls you on the walk, he’s the pack leader. You should be the first one out the door and the first one in. Your dog should be beside or behind you during the walk.
- Use a short dog leash. This allows you to have more control. Attaching the leash to the very top of the neck can help you more easily communicate, guide, and correct your dog. If you need additional help, consider the Illusion collar. Always keep your dog’s safety in mind when giving corrections.
- Set aside time. Dogs, like humans, are diurnal, so taking walks in the morning is ideal. I recommend setting aside thirty minutes to a full hour. The specific needs of each dog differ. Consult your vet and keep an eye on your dog’s behavior to see if his needs are being met.
- Define exploration time. After your dog has maintained the proper state of mind, reward him by allowing him to relieve himself and sniff around. Then you need to decide when reward time is over. It should always be less than the time spent focused on the walk.
- Don’t punch out. When you get home, don’t stop leading. Have your dog wait patiently while you put away his leash or take off your shoes.
- Share food and water. By providing a meal after the walk, you have allowed your dog to “work” for food and water.
So I have decided I need to become more diligent about becoming “the leader” of my dogs and be more consistent with taking them on a walk twice a day regardless of what excuses I can manage to come up with….there are always excuses to not do something, better I should find reasons to get it done than excuses not to.
This week I have done a much better job of walking the dogs morning and night and trying to follow “Cesar’s” advice. I find I do a lot of street crossing and creating space between us and other dogs by walking out onto the street to avoid a lot of conflict.
I actually had a lady tell me yesterday what lovely dogs I have and how much she admires them every time I walk past her house (she obviously hasn’t seen them at their worst). Any little bit of encouragement though….if there is even one person who doesn’t think my dogs (and their owner) are completely out of control then we are making progress. 🙂
P.S. They actually are walking better lately……less barking and lunging at people and their dogs……due mainly to the walk being consistent and me having more control.