Saturday, April 3, 2010

Walking the Dog

Are YOU the person whose little fluffy dog was BEHIND you, at the full length of that retractable leash, in the face of - and barking his brains out at - my 90 pound Lab the other day? And you were oblivious, chatting up a friend, ignoring your crazed little dog? Stop being that person!!

Whether you walk your dog on city streets or hiking trails, be one of the good guys and do it right. First, never ever for any reason use a retractable leash. Throw it away! Why? Because you have absolutely no control of your dog when he is 10 feet away from you. Because you will be mightily bruised and find yourself on the ground in a heap when Fido gets excited and wraps that leash around your legs. And, finally, because it's too easy to ignore your dog when he's floating out there at a distance.

Large breed or small, leash manners are the key to good manners in public. Here are the basics:
  • Your dog should know how to walk politely on a loose leash and how to walk at heel and should be able to move smoothly from one to the other on a verbal cue or hand signal from you.
  • Teach your dog to heel both left and right. When someone approaches you on a narrow trail, sidewalk or in the aisle of a store, move your dog to the side of you away from the person. Remember, not everyone is a dog lover and some people are terrified of dogs.
  • When a person who obviously wants to pet your dog is headed your way, have your dog sit or stand/stay politely at your side. If you have a small breed dog, an alternative is to pick your dog up and hold him while he is petted. Beware of small children who can be scratched or knocked down by your dog.
  • As a person with a dog approaches, ask your dog to sit or stand/stay politely at your side. Should you decide the dogs can greet each other, understand that butt sniffing is the standard and can be accomplished in a few seconds of circling. Become adept at untangling leashes as the dogs circle and sniff and this process will go smoothly.
Last but not least, remember the poop bags and take plenty of water for your dog. And get that AKC Canine Good Citizen Certification to show the world that your dog has good manners.

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