Walking the dog, and not letting the dog walk you

Walking the dog, and not letting the dog walk you

Walks. For some pet parents this word can strike fear into their heart, and strike up images of not-so-enjoyable walks of the past with your dog pulling you this way and that, barking at everything you pass by or even walks with an extendable leash that went south quickly.

Rest assured that walks can get better! With the right knowledge, execution of training tips, and products walks can once again be enjoyable. For those pet parents who have already mastered walking, this post also includes how to win one of three Flexi leashes from Blog Four Paws!

We’ve all seen dogs who drag their parent’s down the street at the end of a leash, desperate to get to whatever awaits them at the end of their trail whether it be the dog down the street they love to bark at or that bush they enjoy leaving their mark on, but walking your dog is not just a way to meet your dog’s bathroom needs. In addition to being a great form of exercise for both of you, it’s also a great way to enhance your relationship, by missing out on walk time your dog is nt only missing out on exercise you’re both missing out on some great bonding time.

The #1 complaint by most pet parents during the walk is their dog pulls/chokes themselves the entire time. Many people believe the best way to solve this problem is by using either a harness or prong collar and nothing could be further from the solution.
Harness: if you replace walking your dog with a collar to walking them with a harness you’re allowing your dog to ‘harness’ its strength and pull from the strongest part of the body. While this may reduce the amount of strain on the neck and choking and coughing your dog experiences, this will in no way reduce the amount of pulling your dog will do.
Prong Collar: This has always been a hot topic among pet trainers and to each their own on their beliefs on effectiveness, but have you ever felt one of these collars for yourself? If you haven’t try putting it around your wrist or neck and give it a good hard tug like your dog would do on a walk and see how it feels on you. For simple issues such as pulling on a walk, I don’t believe in teaching your dog that walking/pulling = pain. Pain only teaches your dog to be fearful and you want your walk to be a very enjoyable experience for both of you.
What to use instead: Gentle Leader or Easy Walker- these products have helped many pet parentswin the war of the walk and if you haven’t been introduced to these products you can find them at almost any pet specialty store. The Gentle Leader is a head collar that painlessly stops your dog’s natural tendency to pull by placing gentle pressure on calming points and stops the uncomfortable pressure on the throat. Not only does it stop your dog from pulling away from you, it can also help stop your dog from jumping.
Not every dog can wear a head collar such as the Gentle Leader. Some dogs who are prone to tracheal problems or breeds who have short noses are a better fit for the Easy Walk harness. The Easy Walk harness is unlike traditional harness’ because it has a  unique front-chest leash attachment stops pulling by tightening slightly across your dog’s chest and shoulder blades. Now the Easy Walk harness won’t be a good tool to prevent jumping but does help with walking and pulling problems.

Leashes: The leash you use will also play a role in how your dog behaves on a walk. Be sure the leash you have is not too long, otherwise you will lose control of your situation and your dog will be more focused on it’s surroundings rather than on you. What is a good length? Most trainers agree no more than six feet, and keeping the shoulders no further forward than your hips. This closeness and body language send the message to your dog that you are the “leader” and will help discourage pulling.

Now is a 2-3′ leash always going to be appropriate anytime you want to take your dog out? Probably not. Like many pet parents, I walk my dogs in my back and front yard because we do not have a fence (yet) and many others don’t for numerous reasons. Sometimes you want to take them to a park or place where they can run and let off some energy. Some cities may require that your pet stay on lead while in public, and many have leash laws where you could be fined for letting your dog off lead. That’s where Flexi/extendable leashes can come in handy, as long as they are used properly.
Many veterinary clinics and public pet establishments have started to ban Felxi leashes, which is unfortunate because they can be extremely useful and are great products when pet parents are properly educated on how to use them. I use Flexi leashes when walking my dogs on my property or when I am walking them in open areas where they can run around a little. In addition I also have a 5′ nylon leash for each dog and a 2′ nylon leash for Tonks, my Great Dane which is used as a secondary or back up leash on our walks in the case of  any issues with our retractable leash or for trips to the groomer and the vet when someone else will have control of her lead.
Kasie, the fantastic editor of the dog walking channel at Dogster.com arranged for us to get a new Flexi leash to review here on Blog Four Paws. Since we already had one, I wanted to pass it along to one of our readers! :-) This new Flexi leash however is a new product called My Design by Flexi. It allows customers to go to their website and personalize their leash! You can pick from a pre-designed pattern or upload your own photo, the process is very easy to use and if for some reason the picture was not sized or places correctly a member of the Flexi team will contact you via e-mail to resolve the image issue in a very timely manner.
With the Flexi leash we ordered it is a large size that can hold up to 110 pounds to ensure that it would be appropriate for almost any size dog. The large size leashes are the tape style, where as the small and medium sizes are the cord/rope style; I have used both and currently own both and while I prefer the tape style leash I have had no problems with the cord leash and it works just as well.
If you choose to use your Flexi leash as your primary/only lead, be sure you utilize your lock buttons. You do not want to “reward” your dog for pulling on the lead with more leash during your routine walks, you also do not want your dog to be at the full 16 feet away from you where you don’t have control over where your dog is going and what he or she is doing.
The video below is a great look at how to use a Flexi retractable leash for pet parents who have never used one before, or for those pet parents who would like a quick ‘refresher course’ on how to use one correctly.

Between your body language and the tools you use on your walk, they can be the enjoyable time they were meant to be. If you find these tips and tools to not be enough, the next best step is to enlist the help of a certified pet trainer who can help with basic obedience and commands for you to use with your dog. You can find them at your local dog clubs, pet specialty stores and at many rescue organizations.

Now for the fun stuff! Blog Four Paws is giving away three Flexi leashes, all three of which are safe for use for dogs up to 110 pounds. The leashes come in three colors one of which is the pawsome custom leash from our friends at Dogster.com that is a gray color with the lime green in the center, the other two are red or black solid colors.
How can you win? You’ll be entered for doing any or all of the following: Signing up for the Blog Four Paws letter which can be found  on the right of the page, “like”-ing us on Facebook, Following @BlogFourPaws on twitter, “like”-ing the blog post, and tweeting about our giveaway!
The contest ends March 19, 2012 at 12:01am EST.



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Featured Photo Courtesy: mikecpeck
Gentle Leader Photo Courtesy: krossbow

 

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  • Lindsay Benedek

    I’m trying to subscribe, but the submit button isnt workin :(

    • http://blog.ryanrhughes.com Ryan R. Hughes

      Hi Lindsay,

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  • Joanne

    Many of our clients prefer a dog harness for controlling their dogs during walks.  The more often dogs are walked on a leash, the better behaved they become.

    • http://twitter.com/BlogFourPaws Lauren McGregor

      Joanne, 

      I definitely agree with you, the more dogs are walked the better they are about walking. Very similar to if you take your dog to the groomer regularly, they will be better behaved during the process. Overall, when people would come into the pet store and buy a harness and pet trainers would ask them why it was often because the dog would pull and choke themselves with a regular collar. I quickly learned from seeing this time and time again that just simply buying a harness does not fix the pulling problem.  

  • http://twitter.com/petntek petntek

    Thanks for the handy tips on dog walking and also for the review of leashes, very useful. Do you have any suggestions for walking a cat?

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