Am I Walking Dogs Responsibly?

by Catherine / Pet Owner Advice / 20 Jun 2017

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Dog bites happen to everyday people and pets, but can often be avoided by owners and pet sitters using the correct lead, collar and walking technique.

When walking your dog it is important to ensure your dog is on the correct lead to ensure you, your dog and other community members are safe and comfortable.

The RSPCA recommends teaching your dog to walk on a lead but ‘loose lead walking’ and operates on the basic principles of reward-based training.

“Essentially, if a dog is walking on a lead without pulling, the owner can keep walking and reward the dog for that desired behaviour,” the RSPCA said.

“However if the dog starts to pull, the owner should stop and stand still like a tree. By stopping, the dog is not rewarded for pulling and the dog learns that when they pull they won’t go forward.”

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What should I check to make sure your walking equipment is in order?

Collars should be suitable and comfortable for your dog. It should also be in good condition and adjust to fit correctly, general rule of thumb is that you need to be able to slide two fingers comfortably under the collar.

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Photo Credit: Russell Yip, The Chronicle

Check chains (choker chains or slop collars) or prolonged pinch collars must not be used as they cause pain and distress to animals when teaching them to walk on a lead.

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Photo Credit: Russell Yip, The Chronicle

Martingale collars can be a good choice for a dog whose neck is not appreciably narrower than their head (e.g. greyhound or whippet), or for when you really want to make sure that the dog can’t slip its collar.

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Photo Credit: Russell Yip, The Chronicle

Leads/leashes need to be in good condition and of a suitable size for your dog. Thick leads with large clips are often too weighty for small dogs and can put undue pressure on the neck and spine. Thin leads with small clips are unsuitable for large dogs as they will break.

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Photo Credit: Hindquarters

Leads/leashes should be long enough to allow your dog some range to explore when on walks, while staying within the limits of the lead length (approximately 2 metres). A short lead will set your dog up to pull.

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Photo Credit: Quirk and Ferg

Extendable or bungee leads are not recommended or walking as they give you less control, encourage pulling and can damage the neck.

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Photo Credit: Tina Rencelj

Dr Karen Becker from HealthyPets.com says there are many reasons to avoid or reconsider using a retractable leash.

“The real purpose of using a leash to walk a dog is to keep the animal safe and under the owner’s control,” she said. “Retractable leashes often do the opposite.”

Some dogs pull strongly on the lead no matter how much training you put in. The most appropriate management tool in these instances for most dogs is a front-attach harness.

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Photo Credit: Russell Yip, The Chronicle

RSPCA advises teaching your dog to walk on a lead is one of the hardest skills to teach, as dogs often wish to explore the world at a much faster pace than we do.

However it is definitely a skill worth mastering for the wellbeing of you and the pooch.

But what about dog parks - when you go to a dog park what electronic device should you not use? How many dogs should you let your dog play with? Is it ok to train your dog at the dog park?


For specific information about Dog Park Safety and Etiquette click here.


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