Walking the dog-how are you doing it?

By Dr. Karen Becker comments by Diane Weinmann

Thinking About Dog Walks in a Whole New Way

 

Many pet parents tend to look at dog walks as chores to be quickly finished, and I think part of the reason is they’re simply in a rut. They’re not using their imaginations. There are actually lots of ways to change up your dog walking routine that can make it fun for both you and your canine BFF, and something you look forward to. Different types of dog walks:

1. Purposeful walks — These are typically short and have a specific goal, for example, walking your dog to her potty spot.

2. Training walks — These walks can be about improving leash manners, learning basic or advanced obedience commands, ongoing socialization, or anything else you can think of that can be done on a leashed walk. Be sure to bring some healthy training treats on these outings.

Ongoing training throughout your dog’s life is a great way to keep his faculties sharp and boredom at bay. It’s also a wonderful way to strengthen the bond between you and your pet.

3. Power walks — Power walks keep your dog’s frame strong, his weight in check, and help alleviate arthritis and other degenerative joint diseases. These walks can also be an essential method for ensuring your dog gets the exercise he needs, as long as you’re consistent with them.

Remember: A healthy dog needs to exercise an absolute minimum of every three days (every other day is better; every day is ideal) at an intensity that elevates his heart rate for 20 minutes to maintain cardiovascular conditioning and muscle tone. If your dog is out of shape, you’ll need to start slow and build gradually to 20 minutes per power walk.

4. Mentally stimulating walks — Most leashed dogs don’t get to spend nearly as much time sniffing and investigating as they would like, so allowing your pet some time to explore is good mental stimulation for her. These walks allow her to stop, sniff, investigate, and pick up and send pee-mail. Dogs accumulate knowledge about the world through their noses.  Take them to the woods—it’s great for their mind and body.  They sniff all kinds of stimulating smells, walk over logs and branches which gently helps with coordination and they can find treasures of leaves and rocks and if lucky, maybe a glimpse of wildlife.  The woods is a treasure trove of activity for your pet to enjoy just remember to leave the leash on!

5. Sniffaris — I don’t know who coined this term, but I love it! Sniffaris are walks during which your dog takes the lead, you follow, and he gets to sniff whatever he pleases. Sniffaris are upgraded mentally stimulating walks, more or less, with your dog making all the navigational and investigational decisions!

6. Change-of-scenery walks — Instead of heading outside in the same old direction, instead, buckle your dog in and drive a few blocks away or to a neighborhood park or nearby hiking trail for your walk. Both you and she will find new things to see, smell and experience.

7. Walks with friends — If your dog is comfortable around other dogs, consider meeting up with neighbors or friends with dogs for group walks. Everyone on two legs and four gets to socialize and exercise simultaneously, and dog parents can also be valuable resources for one another.

8. Different dog-walker walks — Everyone walks a dog a little differently, so the more members of your household who walk your dog, the more variety she’ll enjoy. And since walks done right are bonding experiences, everyone in the family gets to spend one-on-one time with the dog.

A variation on this if you work outside the home is to hire a professional dog walker a few times a week or ask a willing friend or neighbor to take your dog out for a walk in your absence.

One of the most important things you can give your dog whenever you interact with him, including on walks, is your undivided attention. Put down the phone and other distractions and let your dog know through your focus on him how much he means to you.

Carri Westgarth, Ph.D., a research fellow at the University of Liverpool and the lead author of a 2017 study titled “I Walk My Dog Because It Makes Me Happy: A Qualitative Study to Understand Why Dogs Motivate Walking and Improved Health”3 also suggests leaving your cell phone behind to thoroughly enjoy the walk and the time with your dog.

“Dog walking can be really important for our mental health, and there is no joy like seeing your dog having a good time,” Westgarth told Health Newsletter. “In this age of information and work overload, let’s thank our dogs for — in the main — being such a positive influence on our well-being … leave the mobile and worries at home and try to focus on observing our dog and appreciating our surroundings.”4

 

 

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Tips On Walking Multiple Dogs

Tips On Walking Multiple Dogs 

by Chamois Beal Lopez

Featured in Animal Wellness Magazine ~ Vol. 16 Issue 1

 

Walking two or more dogs at once is fun, but can be difficult and even dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Linda has three dogs – a Rottweiler, retriever and a feisty border terrier mix. She walks all of them twice a day, at the same time. One afternoon, she found a lost shepherd mix in her office parking lot, and welcomed the stray into her household until she found her a permanent home.

All four dogs adapted relatively well to one another. Then, Linda took them out for their first walk as a pack. Things progressed smoothly until the shepherd mix laid eyes on another passing dog. Suddenly, she lunged at one of her fellow pack mates with shocking aggression. An experienced multi-dog walker, Linda was able to bring the situation under control, but in other hands, it could have been disastrous.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, approximately 43 million households have more than one dog. And caring canine parents want to exercise those dogs. When time is at a premium, as it so often is, walking two or more dogs at once seems like a great idea. But it can pose some problems if you’re not prepared. J.D. Antell, dog walking expert and author of The Dog Walker’s Start-up Guide, says that before a multi-dog walking experience, you need to make a plan that includes training, safety and proper equipment.

Training is paramount

Walking several untrained dogs at once can pose a danger not only to you, but to innocent bystanders as well. Training techniques should start as early as possible in a dog’s life. “It’s preferable to walk one dog at a time, particularly in the beginning stages of training, because having more than one dog around can be distracting while teaching,” says Mychelle Blake, a dog training expert and President of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. She adds that training allows you to acclimatize to each dog’s temperament and agility.

Although training should be consistent for satisfactory results, it doesn’t need to be elaborate. “Sit” and “stay” commands should be included, and a game called “no pull” can be very useful –if the dog walks forward and causes the leash to tighten, stop until he returns to walk at your side.

Gear for pack walking

When you’re walking multiple canines, choose proper collars, harnesses and leashes for each dog’s specific needs and temperament.

Collars – Look for sturdy, quality materials, and ensure that collars are neither too tight nor too loose on the dogs’ necks. If you have one or more dogs that insist on pulling, a harness might be a better bet. Do not use choke chains.

Harness – Again, durable quality products are safer and more comfortable for the dog. A harness relieves neck pressure and avoids choking dogs with weak windpipes or respiratory problems.

Leads – Choose a strong lead approximately 4’ to 6’ feet in length to provide reasonable security for a multi-dog walk. “Do not walk multiple dogs on fl exible leads,” Mychelle says. “It’s a recipe for trouble.”

Coupler – This nylon extension (designed for multidog walking) divides in two to separate each leash and reduce tangling.

Reconciling differences A multi-dog walk may include canines of any size, age, personality and activity level. The idea of walking two terriers and a German shepherd together may tempt you to think twice, but these differences shouldn’t deter you. Nevertheless, it’s important to gauge each dog individually, as well as how he relates to the others in his pack. “Age is not so much a factor except when we are talking about puppies versus mature dogs,” says Antell. Puppies are generally more energetic than older dogs and their differences might create an alarming conflict unless the dogs have already adapted comfortably within the same household. “In most cases, you will be able to group dogs together by activity level,” Antell says. For instance, if a couple of dainty Pomeranians are going to walk with a Rottweiler and a Doberman, put the needs of the least physically able dog first. “Assuming they are social and friendly with each other, the specific method is to cater to the least physically capable among the group. Of course, this means the younger or more physically active dogs will not enjoy as active a walk as they might like, but you have not compromised the health of the most vulnerable dog either.”

Safety first

Safety is a top priority when walking multiple dogs, and you must factor in your own capabilities, such as fitness level, vigilance and speed.

• Physics play a major role in keeping a pack under control. For example, a 120-pound woman should think twice about walking two 150-pound English mastiffs simultaneously. The weight of the woman compared to the dogs’ combined weight means they could easily drag her off her feet on a wild pursuit after a squirrel or rabbit. In a case like this, it is best to ask a partner or friend to walk one of the dogs.

• If any of your dogs become easily agitated or even aggressive, scan the environment continuously during your walk. Go for walks during off-peak hours when there is less traffic or other dog walkers, to minimize your own dogs’ excitability.

• “If you feel apprehensive about walking more than one dog at a time, I would suggest recruiting another person to walk with you as a backup,” says Mychelle.

It doesn’t matter whether you have two dogs or six. If they’re trained, sociable and well behaved, and if you have the right gear and are keeping everyone’s safety and comfort in mind, it can be a wonderful way for you to step out together. Best of all, no one has to be left at home!