Today it is cold and wet, too miserable for taking the dogs out for a walk and they seem quite content curled up on their beds. Normally, Bundy gets a long morning walk and then we take both dogs out in the evening for a short walk. Maxi is over 15 and suffers from arthritis so long walks aren’t recommended, however she does love escaping the confines of the yard.
15 years of dog ownership and I’ve learned a few things about walking dogs, although I’m sure that there is always more to learn. With Maxi hubby and I went through training with a ‘dog whisperer’, helpful however I learned more when Bundy came along and I took him to weekly training at a local obedience school. Obedience school was a definite improvement over the dog whisperer training, Bundy was exposed to all sorts of dogs and people plus we learned how to walk a dog properly. Maxi can still be hard work when walking but we can take Bundy anywhere.
There have been plenty of times when something goes wrong as a result of us not knowing any better or getting complacent. Maxi loves to say hello to everyone, as a puppy we would take her to a local park which was off leash but her recall wasn’t great. Sometimes it would take us 20 minutes to get her back and other times she would run off to say hello to strangers and not everyone likes dogs. As for Bundy, we can walk him past a yard that contains barking dogs and he could not be less interested. Off leash Bundy is happy and carefree, until another dog decides to get amorous, he will not tolerate such bad behaviour and lets them know. I like to keep an eye on things and make sure that I’m close enough to withdraw him from a tense situation. Hubby is much more relaxed and thinks that all dogs should be able to say hello, needless to say we do have the occasional argument about the topic.
I am not a trainer, the points listed below are things I have learned over the years from having attended obedience classes, volunteering at our local shelter and reading.
What have I learned?
- Take your dog to puppy kindy and obedience school. Socialisation is essential and you will learn about your dog’s needs and how to walk your dog properly.
- Practice walking your dog and consistently applying the techniques learned. Walking your dog will be more pleasurable if they’re not constantly pulling you around.
- Practice recall and don’t let your dog off leash if you are unable to recall them.
- Ask permission to approach another dog with your dog. Don’t assume that all dogs are dog friendly. A wagging tail is not necessarily a sign that the dog is friendly.
- Carry a plastic bag (or several) with you and pick up your dog’s poo. Dispose of it in a bin.
- Be aware of you surrounds when walking. You can prepare your dog if something unexpected happens.
- Stop and wait at the curb before crossing the road.
- Pay attention to other dog walkers. If they are trying to constrain an over-excited dog don’t add to the problem. Cross the road and give them some space.
- Don’t let your dog off leash in an area where is is on leash only. Your dog might love to say hello to everyone but a reactive dog on leash will not appreciate your friendly dog bounding over to them to say hi. It can end very badly.
- Don’t suffer through a walk with a dog that constantly pulls, consider getting help from a professional and/or get the dog fitted for a sporn head halter or sporn harness. For an example of a sporn halter or harness check out OzPetShop online, but do some research to make sure you get the right ‘tool’ for you and your dog.
- Reward your dog with time to sniff. A walk is not just exercise for dogs, it is an opportunity for them to experience life outside their yard.
- Use a leash that allows you to maintain control over your dog, preferably nothing longer than six feet. I personally don’t like the extendable leads, if they malfunction your dog could quickly find themselves on a busy road or tangling themselves up with another dog.
- Let people know if your dog is not dog friendly or gets anxious around strangers. You can attach a yellow ribbon or consider accessories that tell people about your dog such as those available at Friendly Dog Collars.
- Don’t walk your dog in the middle of a hot day. If the road or path is too hot for your feet it will be too hot for theirs. Wait until it cools down or go early in the morning.
In addition to being a good form of exercise, we’ve made some great friends through our dog walks: Lachie the Blue Heeler, Danny the Staffy, Nala the Golden Retriever and Spartan the Rhodesian Ridgeback. Dogs these days are truly part of the family so it makes sense to do what you can to live a peaceful and easy life together.
Enjoy your walk!
St Andrews, Scotland is well known for it’s golf course however there is plenty for a visitor to do if they’re not interested in chasing a little white ball around a paddock. There are castle and cathedral ruins overlooking the sea, as well as delightful little cafes and cobblestone streets. After a morning sketching a church and doing a little shopping in the centre of St Andrews we headed out of the centre to the Botanic Gardens for a picnic lunch and a few hours of quiet in the gardens.
The Botanic Gardens aren’t huge however they are full of brilliant coloured blooms in Spring, some of which I had seen before such as Rhododendrons. The sun was shining and local students appeared to be making the most of the warmth, lying on the grass studying or just ‘hanging out’. As a small group we scattered quickly after lunch, each of us going our own way and doing whatever we wanted. I chose not to sit and draw, and instead kept my camera at the ready because there were so many flowers to see and paths to explore. A couple of ducks caught my attention at one stage, the female splashing around in the water while the male seemed more content to strut around the pond. A heron also became the focus of my attention, I stalked him/her all around one pond trying to capture them in flight however I didn’t not have a fast enough shutter speed and most of the action shots are fuzzy. Big fat bumblebees are always a delight to see although the most amusing creatures in the gardens were not alive, they were carvings and sculptures dotted among the trees. The red squirrel sculpture was as close as I got to this endangered creature, I didn’t even see the more common grey squirrel during my time in Scotland.
As I wandered around the gardens I ran into several of my fellow travelling artists, most of them thoroughly enjoying the peaceful surrounds and the opportunity to draw something other than a church or castle. Hopefully the many photographs I took will serve a inspiration for my artwork in the future. In the meantime I hope you enjoy my walk through the garden.