So very often when you’re out and about and you see someone with their dog, it’s not the person walking the dog, but rather, the dog walking the person. In fact, you see this scenario so frequently that it’s become quite a common joke you’ll hear from passing observers who comment, “Who’s walking who?”
It seems that far too many humans are unaware that by allowing the dog to walk them, that they are actually setting themselves up for possible serious, and unwanted consequences.
Follow the Leader
The basis of a happy and stress-free relationship between dog and human starts with what dogs do most naturally, which is to walk or roam about their neighbourhood and to do this in a safe and respectful manner, they need to be following their human leader at all times when they’re out dog walking, not dragging the human behind them.
Dog Walking Protocol
If proper dog walking protocol is not established right at the very beginning which places the human as the leader of the dog walk, then the dog has no alternative but to believe that the role of leadership has defaulted to him or her. Couple this with the natural enthusiasm of most dogs who are most happy being outside sniffing, exploring, and moving at a pace usually much faster that the average human, and you’ve got the picture we so often see, which is the dog walking the human.
So What’s the Problem?
This type of dog walking can and often does have the potential to become a problem for many different and sometimes surprising reasons.
First and foremost, every time you walk your dog you have an opportunity to re-establish that you are the leader, both inside and outside the home and if you are not making the effort to ensure that you dog follows you on the walk, you’re sending confusing messages to your fur friend. You cannot then blame your dog for “not listening” to you at other times, when sometimes you’re the leader and sometimes your dog is the leader.
Dogs in Charge
Secondly, there are many different dogs of varying breeds, sizes and temperaments and you will not know whether all of them or any of them are actually under the control of their owners or whether they may pose a risk to your dog. When you allow your dog to be in front of you on the walk, your dog has no choice but to have to figure this out for themselves and if an unknown dog in charge comes rushing in, this could frighten your dog, who may react aggressively because he or she feels threatened and the need to protect themselves.
No dog should be put in the position of feeling that they need to protect themselves, and any human who puts this type of stress onto the shoulders of their fur friends needs to be prepared for what could become an inevitable consequence that they may not be very happy with.
Because our dogs have become so humanized, and thus many have forgotten how to properly greet one another, or they’re feeling your uncertain emotions, when you allow them to make human decisions and be in charge when you’re out dog walking, it’s almost inevitable that the outcome, somewhere down the road, may be a dog fight.
Nobody wants to see their dog in a fight with another dog. Nobody wants to see their dog, or someone else’s dog become injured and certainly nobody wants to be the cause of being blamed by a distraught human or suffering the consequences of what has become far too prevalent in today’s unforgiving society – a potential lawsuit.
What’s the Answer?
Being in charge when you’re out dog walking means that your dog always walks beside you when on leash, not in front of you, not twenty feet behind you, so that your dog always understands the chain of command and looks to you for answers when he or she feels uncertain.
Compared to dogs, us humans don’t move very quickly, which means that it’s doubly important to always keep your dog close enough to you so that you know what’s going on, can quickly correct any unwanted behavior and can react in time to take care of any situation that may come flying toward you.
So ditch the retractable leash, get yourself a four or six foot leash, learn how to have a comfortable (no pulling) walk with your dog at your side when out dog walking and have a happy, stress-free relationship with your dog who will love you all the more for being in charge.
– Asia – Dog Whispering for 40+ years
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