Having a pet is an exciting feeling. However, it is not that simple to manage pets. One needs to take into consideration the requirements of the pet in totality. The same is true for dogs as pets. Besides their physiological requirements of food and shelter, the dog owner must take into consideration the dog’s health, emotional and psychological factors too. One very important factor necessary to achieve this end is to walk a dog. One needs to thoroughly investigate about its various aspects and arrange requisite materials, skill and sometimes even a formal training before venturing forth to walk a dog. Walking a dog is imperative to ensure his proper health- both physical and mental and it also serves as a means of expressing one’s love and care towards the dog one possesses.
The most essential items needed to walk a dog comprises of a leash, a harness, a collar and sometimes even a saddle. One must also try to arrange carrying a potty bag, a water bottle or pouch. Some clips must also be kept handy in case there is a need to adjust the position of harness or strap etc.
The first step is to tie a collar around the dog’s neck. It requires a lot of practice and must be done after taking into consideration the age, size and breed of dog. If the strap is too tight it might hurt him and if it is too loose, he might wriggle out of it and escape free with a little struggle. One cannot expect to put the collar at the spur of moment around the dog’s neck just before walking. The dog needs to get used to it for which the owner must start placing the collar around his neck form the early age itself so that he becomes accustomed to it by the time he is ready to walk. Leash and harness not being natural attachments to their body require some time to settle down and become compatible to. Next the owner needs to decide on which side he should let his dog walk. This again depends on a number of factors such as their mutual comfort level and more importantly, the interest of the dog and the safety of the passers-by. One may start randomly by choosing a specific side and after a few errands, one may analyze the experience and either settle down to that side permanently or switch over and make appraisals for the new side. Another factor that needs special attention is to maintain control over the dog. The walker must know that he is walking the dog and not that the dog is walking him. For this the walker needs to get proper training either by observing other dog- walkers or by simply consulting with a dog specialist. The leash must be kept close to the walker’s body so as to keep the dog within acceptable distance but it must be loose enough to ensure smooth walk in a natural manner. The walker must gradually acquaint some signals to the dog so as to create a proper coordination regarding the speed, direction and duration of the walk. These signals could be a combination of gestural nature such as a pull or tug of a leash or verbal such as speaking and communicating through a change of tone using words like “that’s it”, “good job”, “that’s my boy”, “stay off it”, “don’t go there”, “ come off it”etc.The greater the walker and the dog spend time together, the better would be the understanding and communication bond between the two. Once they get perfectly synchronized, they would start deriving more pleasure out of their walking trips. Another important thing to be decided is the route and the duration of walk. For route, the walker has to select the one that offers the best experience to the dog and caters to all his needs within the constraints of the local and municipal factors. The duration is also an important factor. One may start initially with a duration of 15 minutes with a frequency of 2 and later gradually increase it as suited to both.
Before walking a dog, it is imperative for a dog walker to know certain facts about the dogs in order to be able to establish a proper understanding of their behavioral pattern, specific needs and compulsive instinct. Walking a dog is more than just a recreational trip or an exercise routine. Besides being necessary for their physical fitness, walk is also necessary for dog’s mental stimulation and exposure to the word at large, The dog walker must understand and consequently adjust to the fact that there is remarkable difference between him and his canine companion. Firstly, a dog walker might find the speed of dog much faster than his own usual pace during a normal stroll. The fact is that dogs are far more agile, frisky and energetic as compared to man. Thus, a dog walker needs to change his pace or control the dog’s pace so as to settle at a mutually conducive walking speed. Secondly a dog walker may initially find it queer looking his dog sniffing at grass, bushes and stones at various nooks and corners along their path. They even stop at frequent intervals to urinate and defecate. The dog walker must not let these annoying habits of dogs frustrate him. He should rather try to decode the meaning of such behavioral patterns. A careful analysis of dog’s body constitution would reveal that they possess a remarkable sense of smell. Their nose is believed to be in possession of around 300 million scent receptors as against a partly 5 million scent receptors in case of humans. A knowledge of this would surely help a dog walker understand a host of information that dogs seek to gather with the help of their magic nose. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to state that dogs connect themselves to the world through their nose. Another noteworthy fact to be noted by a dog walker is that dogs don’t urinate while out on walk just to relieve themselves but they do so to mark their territory just as the lions do. Urinating at varied locations they leave a signature of their presence to other dogs of the locality. Similarly, their sniffing habit could be seen as an investigating act to recognize the pee smell, poop odor and also a special scent released by dogs from glands present between their toes.
Benefits and Need
Walking a dog is a must activity for every dog keeper. Dogs are able to discover the world around them during this brief outing without which they would feel absolutely cut off and start sulking. By sniffing at the urine of other dogs they can make astonishing estimates about dogs around including their breed, age, gender and much more. They even leave their own trail by urinating and defecating or create visual evidences by digging the soft ground with their paws. They are able to digest their food, get exercise, explore the world around them, communicate with other dogs and gain positive mental stimulus at the same time
A dog walker needs to practice a lot of precautions and show empathy failing which it would prove to be a disastrous experience. They must ensure safety of dogs. For this first of all they must make sure that there must be at least a finger gap between the collar and the neck. Again, while walking they should not pull the leash violently or too hard. In most of the cases it should hang in a J shape. The skin of certain breeds in case of puppies is top soft and hard pulling of leash may result in collapsing of trachea. Matching the speed is another important criterion. Dogs are known to retaliate back so don’t pull hard if they try to run fast, else they would pull back and it would soon convert into a tug of war. The dog walker must not create hindrance on their exploration work. He should rather be considerate and cooperative in this work. For an example, it would be least advisable to drag away a dog from any object of his interest just because you are getting late. Lastly, while walking a dog the safety of your dog and other pets must also be considered adequately. If he defecates, the stool must be picked up in the poop bag so as to avoid any municipal action or penalty. Most importantly the dog walker needs to ensure that there aren’t any incidents of dog bites or dog attacks on the residents and other pets around.
Walking a dog is an important act of responsibility. One must prepare oneself completely before accepting the job. Training and scientific study is needed for the same. One must create a communication bonding with the dog and if the dog responds positively to the walker’s instructions, the walker must befittingly reward the dog by offering a good treat. If the owner feels, he is not yet ready for the task or if he doesn’t have requisite time, skill or patience, he should rather hire a specialized dog walker.