I have an Old English Bulldog who never wants to go for a walk whereas my Golden Retriever, before he died, wanted to walk three or four times a day. Wherever your dog is on the excitement spectrum, though, there is a right way and a wrong way to walk a dog. Here’s how to walk your dog, no matter their age, followed by five tips on walking with an old dog.
Going for walks is one of those activities that identifies the alpha dog in the relationship; and that is YOUR role. Therefore, you control all aspects of the walk.
How to walk the RIGHT way
While in the house, call the dog to you to put on her collar. Don’t take her collar to her to put on.
- After he has his collar on, go to the door and command your dog to sit. Once he’s in a sit, you go out the door and then invite him to follow. The alpha always goes out the door first.
While walking your dog must stay at your side. Do not allow her to walk in front of you or go wherever she pleases unless you give permission. I have two commands:
- WALK – means by my side, straight ahead
- FREE – means my old dog can sniff around, go to the bathroom, whatever she wants.
Your dog should not lead you while walking
When encountering other dogs and people while walking, put yourself between your dog and the oncoming dog. That’s the alpha dog’s job. If you opt to allow the dogs to interact, do it in a controlled manner. The people come together; have the dogs sit on your “outside” side and once everything is under control you can offer your dog the “FREE” command. Be sure to pay close attention to how the dogs interact so that you can move along on your walk if the encounter is less than positive.
If you are learning how to walk an old dog, add these tips to those above.
When to walk. In order to minimize the risk of bloat, walk your old dog before a meal, not after.
Speed. Don’t expect Fido to walk at the pace he used to. Think of it as more of a stroll the two of you enjoy together.
Bring water. Carry a bottle of water for your dog and part way through the walk pour some slowly and he’ll be able to lap it in, as if it were a drinking fountain. Many pet stores carry a product that is a bottle and bowl all in one. Or carry a small, folding bowl with you and take a water break halfway through your walk.
Surface. When puppies are younger it’s suggested you walk them on a hard surface like a road to help wear down their nails. However, the opposite is true when walking an old dog. You want to walk your old buddy on soft grass or dirt to avoid damage to his footpads. And if the surface is slippery for any reason, an older dog will be nervous and may even slip.
Use a leash. Even if your dog is well behaved off leash, you still want to use a leash when walking an old dog. If something catches your old friend’s eye he may forget his age and go chasing after it. The older your dog is the greater the risk of this resulting in pulled muscles or joint damage which, of course, means longer recovery time due to age. Don’t take the chance. Use the leash.
If you learn how to walk your dog properly you’ll never feel the frustration of being pulled here and there and walks will be as enjoyable for you as they are for your dog. But beyond pleasure, it’s your responsibility to control your dog when you’re in public and these simple rules (above) will go a long way in helping you maintain that control.
source: How to Walk Your Dog