Today I had a frustrating dog walk.
The dog on the end of the man’s lead was fighting to advance and he was holding her tightly by his side. She wanted to get to the grass verge and sniff things. ‘I’ve walked dogs all my life’ was his response to being asked to give the dog more length and to simply stop when the dog pulled. ‘I don’t need to do all that. See – she can’t pull. I won’t let her’.
Only a few minutes previously I had had her on a loose lead to show him.
Of late I have been out for several short dog walks with owners – the people separately.
Dog walks can be a bit of a chore. Dogs must be walked before or after work, or both – it’s what a responsible dog owner does. This means WALKING – covering as much distance in as short a time possible – not stopping, sniffing, giving the dog choices and particularly not progressing only when the lead is loose.
It’s a question of putting the lead on the dog, walking out of the door and not messing about.
Once at an open space it’s then a matter of tiring the dog out in as short a time as possible – so repeated throwing of a ball.
It can seem a novel concept to many people to decide before they leave home how much time they have available and then taking things as they come. This means concentrating on the dog – not just a daily duty and ‘getting it over with’.
But dogs don’t pull men over.
I don’t remember ever having been told by a man that he’s been dragged along the ground by his dog, but I have by women. Men don’t notice pulling so much and can use force without hurting themselves. If the dog is reactive to other dogs men don’t panic so much as they are likely to be able to control the situation using physical strength.
The ladies are more desperate for a solution so understandably more receptive to force-free methods on the whole. (Sorry men, of course I have met many superb exceptions along with some women who can’t see the point of putting in the effort).
Dog walking is a challenge because it’s what we need from a dog walk – not what the dog really needs. He is required to learn he techniques that please us. No pulling, no jumping at people and not barking at other dogs.
When people start to compromise by considering what a dog’s walk would be like too, they no longer have to dread confronting head-on the things their dog doesn’t like. They can relax. It’s okay to keep stopping when the dog wants to sniff something; it’s okay to increase distance away from things that upset him.
Now at the end of the walk the dog should return home fulfilled and relaxed – probably have a drink and settle. The owner also should feel satisfied rather than stressed.
What, truly, is a DOG walk? What would the dog choose to be doing if not on the end of a leash and subject to dangers like traffic? He wouldn’t cover much distance. He wouldn’t be constantly chasing balls that’s for sure – occasional animals maybe. He would do a lot of sniffing. He would avoid trouble.
He wouldn’t be dragging a heavy human weight along behind him – the price he’s learnt he has to pay to get anywhere.
This survey of street dogs left to do their own thing suggests dogs making their own choices would spend most of their time….dozing!
Here is the story of two dogs I went to whose male owner found that using old-fashioned method involving strength worked for him.
My main website: www.dogidog.co.uk