If you have a new furry friend and want to know more about walking your dog, I can offer some thoughts from the other end of the leash.
My name is Charlotte and I am a Pug-Cattle Dog mixed breed. My sister, Georgia, and I were born in the same litter, and we absolutely love going for walks together. In fact, we could go for three or four walks a day if we only had enough time. But one to two walks usually work out pretty well to keep us from getting too fidgety or barking too much. We have a lot of energy and need to get some moderate exercise. We also need to relieve ourselves at least three to four times a day. Since we have a small yard, one longer walk a day works out pretty well if we can’t do two shorter ones.
I would love to offer you some tips on how to be a great human parent, when it comes to taking your dogs out for a walk. It is actually pretty simple. Just think about what it might be like to be us at the other end of the leash.
We Hate to Be Cooped Up all Day!
Georgia and I love living in our townhouse and small yard. It is so much better than the kennels. Our last Mom had to un-adopt us and we stayed in a luxury day care/kennels for nine months. But then, our new Mom found us and brought us to our new home, when we were about six (in human years).
Our new Mom does not seem to like crates or cages too much. Even so, Georgia and I had to spend some time in a crate, when we first moved in. I used to sometimes forget to pee outside instead of inside. But this did not last very long after I was reminded that a home is different than the kennels. In fact, we now have our very own little doggie door. So now I don’t have to figure out how to tell my new Mom when I have to pee really, really bad.
Every morning, Georgia and I jump out of bed and run downstairs as fast as we can. You never know what might have happened overnight, so it is important to run all around our little backyard to check it out. And we usually bark a lot in case there are any potential intruders lurking about.
Next, we run back inside to see if breakfast is ready. After that, we follow Mom around the house. If she is reading the news on her iPad and drinking coffee, we love to sit on her lap for a quick morning nap. But pretty soon we get bored with that and like to run round the house and play with our favorite toys or chew on our fake bones. This keeps us entertained for quite a while. Usually, by the afternoon we are tired of all of this and want to see what is going on in our neighborhood.
Dogs Need Breaks During the Day
It is very important for dog parents to note when it comes to walking your dog, that we dogs have short attention spans. Georgia and I are very smart, mind you, but we also live very much in the moment. Like other dogs, we don’t daydream or spend time planning our future. We do what we need to do and move on.
As a result, we can only sleep so much or hang out in the house. Eventually, we need to just get outside for a run or a long walk. We need more stimulus and exercise than we can get at home. And, if you forget everything else, remember that dogs need to pee/poop at least two to four times a day. Think about how many times a day you take a bathroom break, as an example. So, please don’t leave your dog in the house without a potty break for more then 5-6 hours.
Dogs Like to Get the Daily News Just Like Humans
Just like people, we like to check out the daily news. So, walking your dog is a good way to let your dog do this. We can’t read iPads, newspapers, or magazines. But we have a great sense of smell. In fact, our sense of smell is 10,000 times greater than our human parents. You cannot even begin to imagine the things that we are able to smell (and you may not want to).
Georgia and I check out every scent left by other dogs and critters when we are at the park. We also leave our scent just to let other dogs know we were there. It is kinda of like doggie email. And just to be sure they get the message, we also scratch the ground a lot after we pee or poop. We dogs have little glands between our toes that also leave a certain smell that other dogs will notice.
I am especially concerned about what is going on in our neighborhood and want to make sure everything is alright. Georgia and I usually discover new critter smells every day and all kinds of other interesting sounds and sights when we are out. We really love exploring the larger community as well by going to the beach or a regional park. Sometimes the dog park is pretty fun too as long as no one bites us. Our Mom wrote an interesting post about all of this, A Dog’s Newspaper, if you want to know more about how we get doggie news.
Important Tips about Walking Your Dog
When you are walking your dog, think about how it might feel to have a collar on your neck. Yes, we do have tougher necks, but we are sensitive to being suddenly jerked or abruptly pulled away from something we are investigating. We need time to stop and smell and check things out. Yes, exercise is important, but a forced march is not much fun for us. Remember, this is how we get the news each day and it is one of the most interesting times of our day. And when we pee or poop, we are not just relieving ourselves. We are also getting and leaving messages with our canine friends.
I really like to pull hard on my leash and Mom had a hard time with me in the beginning. But I did not do this to be difficult. I simply was in a hurry to get to where I was going. I can walk really fast and Mom is kind of slow. But the problem was that it was choking me a bit and I kept coughing. My Mom’s arm was getting really tired as well. My sister was better about this, but she always followed my lead making it hard for Mom to walk us. Our Mom even went so far as to write an article about Why is My Normally Nice Dog So Reactive When on a Leash, hmmph.
Our Mom hates choke collars or anything that can hurt us like a collar with spikes. She reviewed body harnesses and head halters and we ended up with a Gentle Leader by Pet Safe (Amazon, affiliate partner link). It is a lightweight head halter that does not hurt but makes us slow down, since we can feel some pressure on our nose if we pull too hard. We did not like body harnesses very much as it made us feel like we were walking funny. Georgia would not even move with a body harness on.
Our Mom is also great about giving us verbal cues when she is changing direction. She does not usually make us heel very much, which involves marching along right next to her. Instead, she lets us go ahead of her and explore. But she also guides us in the direction she wants to go. When we hear the verbal cue, “Let’s go this way“, along with a very gentle pressure on our lead, we can easily change direction.
Mom, rarely jerks our lead, unless she is really scared about something. She usually says “Leave it!” and then gently pulls us away if we try to eat those discarded McDonalds french fries or some other really tasty, but for some reason, bad food. We really appreciate getting some verbal and gentle cues about where we are going or what we are supposed to do. It makes our walk together so much more fun.
Mom always says “Wait”, before we cross the street. This helps with our impulsive tendencies and ensures our safety. Then she always says “Let’s Go” when it is ok to move on. Sometimes she gently gives a few short tugs at my leash, if I forget myself and start pulling ahead to much. Or, we may even come to a complete halt, until I can get a hold of myself and walk normally again.
Dogs, like people, deserve respect and gentle handling. We really want to know what is expected of us, and we appreciate getting verbal cues in advance. We hate being jerked around and really do not like to choke even if it is our fault. Dogs need stimulation, potty breaks, and some freedom. So please take all of this into consideration, when your are walking your dog. You will both be much happier!
Be sure to see more at our Mom’s post, Everything You Need to Know About Adopting a Rescue Dog. We give it a paws up!