Monday, September 23, 2013

Dog Ownership and How [NOT] To Walk Your Dog

That's Me! Dog Lover right here. With my dog Mia.
Don't mind my no makeup with less than 3 hours of sleep face.
Dog Lover.
Mia (our Shetland Sheepdog, or Sheltie) has been in our family for almost two years now, and there are things that I have come to realize about being a dog owner. Before I get to that you should know that I grew up around dogs. When I was born my parents had a Yorkshire Terrier, then we fostered a spaniel mix (i think?), then fostered a white German Shepard for a while and then we had two Brittany Spaniel/black lab mutts who were brothers from the same litter. One of them is still alive! (15 years old and still going!) I have always been around dogs and have always been a dog lover.

Owning a dog.
But I had never owned a dog.  Sure I called my parents dogs "my" dogs, but in reality they were not mine. I didn't buy them, didn't purchase the dog food, didn't pay for vet bills, didn't take the responsibilities of walking them, feeding them, picking up after them, training them, bathing them etc (the list goes on).  I learned that just because one of my chores was to feed them, or that I gave them medicine when they needed it, or even that I walked them every once in a while did not equate to my owning a dog. That is what I call pretending you own a dog. 

Because in all honestly owning a dog is a lot more work and responsibility than cuddling and the occasional feeding. You have to change your schedule for your dog. No you can't go out later because you have to go home to let out your dog so he/she doesn't piss all over the house. And no you can't sleep till noon on the weekend because your dog needs to go out and be fed. by you. 
Mia, our Sheltie, waiting patiently to be walked
My Mia.
Enter Mia.  Since we've had Mia I learned what it means to own a dog - including the daily walk. From 7 weeks old we started teaching her to walk (granted those walks were a lot shorter than the walks now). I would even walk Mia when it was cold! And I hate cold weather, so that says a lot right there.  Walking a dog may not necessarily be a thing you always want to do. You have to do it. When we didn't walk Mia or get her the exercise she needed last winter she actually gained weight. And was not as healthy as before. So regardless of how I am feeling I need to walk her and give her what she needs.  and what she needs is to be walked and get her exercise. Not just hugs and cuddles.

In my dog walking adventures I've come across a lot of other dog walkers. I've done some casual observing. And I have come up with this helpful list on 5 ways how [NOT] to walk your dog. I might have to add to this list as the years go by. I do hope you find this list helpful.
How [NOT] to walk your dog.

1. Give your dog the entire leash. Let your dog walk you. Look like you are struggling walking your dog as you trip over the leash because he or she is roaming the roads and pulling you along like a horse and chariot.

I've seen this over and over and over again. Owners tripping over the dog leashes because they give them way too much leash. The dog goes from the left side and then sees something on the right side. The dog is all over the place, walking in zigzag formation and the owner is at the dog's mercy. Or the dog is walking so far ahead of the owner you don't even see the owner at first. That is a great idea. Especially when there are cars around. I've seen so many close calls of dogs going into the street, or crossing a road/intersection before their owner and a car not seeing them properly and having to stop hard. That is an accident waiting to happen. (Unless of course you are trying to get rid of your dog. Cuz dog ownership is hard. Then wow. props to you for being so bold and out there in the open with that). You really don't need your dog walking 20 feet ahead of you. It makes it more difficult to pull them to safety if need be. Plus it doesn't look like you are walking the dog. It looks like the dog is walking you. Who is the owner again? And again, who exactly is being walked?

Here is a brilliant idea: Why don't you give your dog less leash to roam? 

2. Don't leash your dog at all. Completely forget what I just told you. Why bother use a leash at all? Because everyone knows your dog is "friendly" as they come bounding at them at full speed. And that is totally acceptable. To have 70 plus pound stranger dogs jump on you.

And I'm supposed to assume that every strange dog barking and bounding towards me is friendly? Um... no. Not at all. Especially because I am walking my own dog, who is 25 pounds, and I don't know if this stranger dog running at me is prone to being nice one second and then goes terror dog the next. Plus your dog is three to four times the size of my dog... Of course I'm going to get a tad nervous around your dog because I DON'T KNOW YOU. Or your dog for that matter. And you not rushing over to save me from your strange huge dog from jumping on me is not helping. So stop yelling at me from across the street that oh he is friendly and not to worry. How about you leash your dog and stop it from jumping on top of strangers?

For some reason why do I only find people with large dogs do this?

I must say there is one exception to this rule. To the man, whom I've run into a few times while walking Mia, who owns that older German Shepard who literally walks himself (the dog holds the leash in his mouth) I think you are completely excused from your wrong doing.

If you are not in a dog park, or an open field, Put your dog on a freaking leash.

3. Don't carry a plastic bag. Let your dog use the world like a personal toilet. Because hey the grass is greener on the other side because they let dogs poop on it.

Yeah I just saw you. You let your dog crap all over that person's yard and you walk away nonchalantly without a care in the world. First off that is gross. You own a dog, therefore you have to clean up after it. It's part of owning a dog (^see above section, owning a dog.) Even if you own a cat, or a bird, or a fish you have to clean up after them too. It is part of owning a PET for goodness sake. And second I do not appreciate almost stepping in dog poop when walking from the car to pick up Eliana from school. Yeah. I mean in front of a school? C'mon! How hard is it to have a plastic bag with you? And for those of you that let your dog poop on the sidewalk? I have no words for you.

Pick up after your dog.

4. Get a dog that is twice the size that you can handle. Get the biggest dog you can find. Because when they are puppies they are so so so cute and don't ever think about the fact that they will one day be larger than 80 pounds and strong enough to tow your SUV out of the ditch. And don't ever get them trained. Because the bigger the dog is, the less training they need. That is how you handle big dogs.

OK what is this fascination with getting huge dogs that you cannot handle around where we live? I've seen it way too many times! The owner cannot even walk the dog-- doesn't have the strength in him, or her, to hold back the dog.  I'm sorry but if that is the case you probably should not have gotten that big of a dog. You are being dragged by the dog at a 45 degree angle and seriously you look like you will fall and get hurt if the dog suddenly stops pulling you.  Or at least get your dog trained. And I mean professionally. You look ridiculous if you can't handle your own dog. And if you say you don't have the time or money to get your dog trained.. again. I say to you. Why then did you get a dog? Just to have it? Also if you do have a huge dog please refer to previous section, in which you will need to carry twice as many.

Get a dog the size that you can handle.

5. Be anti social. Most of all be anti social while walking your dog. Don't let your dog socialize with other dogs as they walk. If you see a person walking their dog you must inconveniently cross over to the other side of the road in order to avoid socializing.

I mean seriously how crazy is that? I have had people completely avoid me and Mia by crossing to the other side of the road-- which doesn't even always have a sidewalk-- just to avoid us. Seriously? The dogs really just need to sniff each others butts, see where they've been and they will completely calm down.  Unless you have a muzzle on your dog and your dog is vicious there is no need to completely avoid socialization.  The dogs are just dying to sniff each other. And what is the worst that can happen? You might have to say "hi" to the other dog owner. I'm not going to keep you for 30 minutes with small talk. A simple hi, oh how cute is your dog and bye. I might even ask how old your dog is. I might not. Trust me its not that difficult to let your dog socialize. And what I've noticed is that after the dogs sniff each other they all calm down. The barking stops and they are fine. They just wanted to sniff each other! So get off your high horse (or your 80 plus pound dog) and socialize for two seconds of your life. Its good for you. Oh and your dog too.

Let your dog sniff another dogs butt.

And that my friends is how [NOT] to walk a dog.

♥ Michelle

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