Who Should Walk The Dog? – Dog Training – Dog Trainer – Behaviorist
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Questions arise from time to time as to who should walk the dog. It seems to be a very simple thing, but really it isn’t.
The first consideration is the dog.
Young puppies, under 4 months of age, really are too young, untrained and vulnerable to be taken for a walk in public. Young puppies don’t have the stamina to do long walks. Short walks out to the potty area, or around the yard, are perfectly acceptable. But young puppies are too weak and soft skinned to take long walks. Young puppies don’t have adult type callouses on the pads of their feet, so they can come home with bloody paws. Untrained puppies also will balk when put on a leash, bucking and panicking. Young puppies need to be gradually introduced to wearing a leash and collar, and walking alongside the handler. I see people jerking around young puppies, and disciplining them, for a skill that the puppies haven’t yet acquired. Heeling has to be taught properly, and doing it wrong will just make future walks worse and worse. A good trainer can show you how to lay the proper foundation. Young puppies can be taught to walk on a leash, and that is a desirable thing… but it needs to be done properly. And young puppies are not fully immune to the various diseases that can harm them. You shouldn’t be walking a young puppy in areas where there might be diseases that your puppy can catch.
For older dogs, it depends more on the training and temperament of the dog. It is next to impossible to take some dogs for a walk. They are untrained. They pull, balk, grab the leash in their mouths, etc. You really need to train a dog to have an enjoyable walk with a dog. The other issue is the temperament of the dog. Aggressive dogs should only be walked by responsible adults, people who have worked with the dog in lessons, and are prepared to take the necessary precautions with that dog. Many people have been seriously injured by an aggressive dog, being walked by a teenager or child, neighbor or friend. Fearful dogs should be given special walks to build their confidence. Dogs that go on a “hunt” every walk, pulling you like a freight train, need training, too. And elderly dogs are sometimes best off not being walked more than a very short distance at a very slow pace.
The second consideration is the people.
Family members should share in the responsibility for caring for the family dog. That means every capable person should be involved in taking walks with the dog, so that the dog gets at least one or two, 45 minute walks per day. I really don’t want to hear the excuses. The dog can’t walk itself. Someone has to be there and do it. So, a schedule should be worked out, and it should be done out of love for the dog and responsibility for managing the family obligations. And I really don’t care that the dog is “their” dog. If you live there, then you need to step up to the plate and walk the dog, too. Just like everyone should be sharing in household chores, including feeding, watering, bathing, and pottying the dog.
The age, capability and temperament of the people should also be factored in. Some kids are too young to be walking the dog. Some adults are too old to be walking the dog. Dogs will act differently with different people. Strong dogs can overpower those they perceive as weak. Protective dogs can be too protective over people they view as vulnerable. Bratty dogs will be even more bratty, and escape, from people who aren’t leaders or too inattentive to watch the dog in public. Also, some people are just not good with dogs. They either bring out the worst in a dog, or they are negligent in their handling. Those folks should not be walking the dog at all. And some people are animal abusers, drug abusers, childish, too domineering, or have personality disorders which will put the dog or others at risk. Those people should be supervised with the dog.
So, quit arguing over who should walk the dog and just do it. You have time to do all that other stuff you want to do, so you can make time for the dog.