I was walking one of my dogs the other day, I was a block or two from home near the dog park and I hear some barking coming from across the street. I looked over and see a guy getting pulled towards us by his pitbull. The dog was pretty excited and he was pulling a 200+ lb man down the street. PitBull’s can be very powerful dogs when you take him for a walk make sure you can control him or else he walks you. And this is what brings me to today’s missive.
Walking Your Dog
I have 3 dogs two are 60-70 lbs and we have the Waz who is about 15 lbs of solid whining muscle. When I walk them, they walk next to me or if I’m walking more than one they will either be next to me or slightly behind me (or else they would crowd me off the sidewalk).
So after I walked with Kevin for a while we came back by the dog park on the way home and I stopped and talked to Mr. Pitbull. He was a really nice guy, he thought Kevin was fairly old and that's why he walked next to me while his dog dragged him across the street, I told him Kevin was 5 or 6, which was the same age as his dog. So I offered him a few tips, mind you, they are not original, I did not make up the right way to walk your dog, I just copied Cesar. Yep, Cesar Milan and a few hundred episodes of Dog Whisperer can make you too a dog expert.
I start off being the leader of the pack, I control the dog, he does not control me. Once the dog knows who’s the leader they are much easier to work with. It’s a pack mentality, someone has to be the pack leader if you are not the pack leader – he will be. It’s very simple.
When walking your dog, stand straight, chest out and walk briskly, he will be forced to follow you, as you have taken the lead. Walk slow, slouch, and you are not the leader. When starting I’ll hold the handle of the leash around my right wrist and thread it through my left hand, I will not give him 2’ of extra leash to pull me. I keep him next to me as I walk if he starts to get in front of me, I’ll make the same sounds like Cesar said his mother used to make to get the dogs out of the kitchen when she wanted to cook. It’s kind like a snake sound or – ssst. If I do that it gets their attention and they fall back next to me. Once they are used to walking with you it’s much easier but in the beginning, I’ll give them a tap with my foot. Not a kick but just a tap - and it breaks their concentration. When they are pulling you need to break their attention, if not they will just keep pulling you, kind of like what was happening to Mr. PitBull. It’s just a gentle reminder that you’re the pack leader, not him. After getting tapped a few times they seem to get the point pretty quick and will let you be the leader and they walk next to you. As soon as you let them walk in front though they become the pack leader once again. It takes a little work and it’s easier to do it with 1 dog at a time but they pick it up pretty quick. If I recall correctly Cesar Milan would just swing one foot back to tap the dog on the side, it surprises the dog as they do not expect what they can’t see coming. My knees don’t work as well as they once did so swinging my leg out behind me is not that easy anymore so I’ll just swing my foot over in front of his face and they fall back pretty quick. It just breaks their attention and that’s all it takes to bring them back to following you instead of leading you. Carrying an umbrella or a walking stick could easily do the same thing. Here is a link to Cesar Milan's dog training - - https://www.cesarsway.com/category/dog-training/
The above photo by Haywood Gilbreath is credited to helping bring fame to Cesar Milan “The Dog Whisperer”. https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?id=340529829424993&story_fbid=1341613225983310
I recall seeing a picture once of Cesar Milan in his younger days walking people’s dogs in his neighborhood, they all walked next to or behind him – he was the pack leader. I thought he also used a walking stick and would just kind of wave it back and forth so they would not go in front of him. I found this picture above showing a young Cesar, not the picture I remember but you can see he is walking with 8 dogs, and they are not in front of him.
When I walk my dog’s I have collars on them and a leash, have to admit I have never used a dog walking harness, I have nothing against them, they are probably much more comfortable for the dog. It’s just my dogs always wear their collars and tags so clipping a leash on it is quick and easy. I’m lazy, that must be it. I used choker collars a long time ago but this method is much easier, if your dog walks next to you a choker is unnecessary. I have never used a spiked choker collar. I hate the look of them they just look cruel, I'm sure some will disagree with me on this, but I wish they would not even make those things. Maybe it’s a fashion choice for some. I was in a pizza restaurant with my family one time and a young girl next to us on a date with her boyfriend wore a spiked collar. So it must be a fashion choice.
One other item I like to not recommend is wrapping the leash around your waist. Some people do it, it’s popular with runners as it keeps their hands free. I saw a friend of mine that did this when she walked her boxer, one day he saw something (bright shiny thing) and took off after it pulling her to her side when she was not expecting it he dragged her down the sidewalk until she could get him to stop. Another time my wife was running and had the dog leash around her waist, Penny (Lab / Golden mix) saw a bright shiny thing and pulled her to the side nearly knocking her over. It’s the unexpected things that get you. Unless your dog is well trained against sudden distractions I would not recommend your giving him the opportunity to drag on your butt down the sidewalk, it’s just not a good scene for your Christmas card and let's face it unless your really attractive no one wants to administer first aid to your backside. In my case, they would just leave me there and I would wake up to the dog peeing on me.