WALKING YOUR DOG
(“He” used here means “she” as well.)
Dogs are simply amazing creatures. In fact, it is said, “God did not create dogs, he already had one.” As paradoxical as that is, next to humans, dogs are a miracle of creation. The dog was created with a propensity to humans. They truly are “man’s creatures.” Of course, we want to be careful not to anthropomorphize too much. The dog is still an animal with animal traits. They are not humans is fur. The dog needs to be properly trained. One phase of that training is walking the dog. In this short writing I want to focus on just walking the dog. I could write extensively on just my preface and hundreds of articles and books have already been written on these subjects. But walking the dog is a basic and needed function of our relationship.
Why walk the dog? If I have a back yard, why can’t the dog just run and get his exercise there? First, having a dog and letting the dog just get what “we” think he needs in the large or small back yard does not build his personality, nor does it build the human/dog relationship. The whole purpose of having a dog is to build a human/dog bond. If that is not your purpose, please don’t acquire a dog. It is not to either of you.
First, consider the dog. Is he afraid, easily frightened? Is your dog noise sensitive? Afraid of people or other dogs? Know these things about your dog. Don’t force your dog into situations he is not comfortable with. This means you might need to do some desensitizing work. If that is the case for your dog, then contact a good trainer. Make sure the trainer is “force-free” in his/her approach.
That being considered, let’s think about the proper equipment. Yes, you will need equipment. I know there are owners who want their dog to be so obedient that no leash is necessary. Well, this may give you pride or machismo, but it is neither wise nor safe. Remember, dogs are still dogs. If something is little and runs fast, it demands being chased. If something frightens the dog flight is instinctual. There is just too much danger lurking about to have my beloved dog unleashed and unprotected.
What is proper equipment? A regular collar. A martingale collar, properly fitted is acceptable. If it is a martingale, the collar should be drawn to a comfortable fit, never too tight and never used as a punisher. A fixed leash, preferably no longer than six (6) feet. Longer collars, starting out, are just too much length to handle comfortable for the owner. A waist attachment is also a consideration. If a harness is used, use the easy walker where the leash clips on the dog’s chest rather than on his back. The back-clip harness just encourages pulling as it triggers a reflexive action and gets the dog in trouble. The purchase of a Gentle Leader. This goes over the snout of the dog and provides the owner leadership of his head movements which provides less likelihood of the dog’s pulling. Some people might think the gentle leader is a muzzle, or that your dog is mean. You can easily correct this misinterpretation.
Never use a choke chain/slip collar. These collars hurt the dog’s neck and can cause damage to the trachea, the nerves in the neck and the human/animal bond.
I tell my clients, “If your wife will wear a choke chain for a week and allow you to use corrections for her talking or actions, and maintained a loving, respecting and trusting relationship, then I might discuss the choke chain.” Seriously, the choke chain is 1. Dangerous, 2. Will encourage aggression. If a trainer refutes these, do not use that trainer’s services. It is a through back to archaic training methods. Also, Pet stores recommend the slip collar. Clerks are generally uninformed and are there to sell what you want.
All the above also is true of prong collars. Slip collars and prong collars are designed to inflict pain, pure and simple. As is the shock collars. Never use ANY of these on your dog. They are inhumane and serve no positive, loving purpose. As far as I am concerned, these are in line with the thinking of Rene Descartes of the 17th century. Read about his thinking on dogs and pain.
Don’t use expandable leashes.