Walking and Minding your Manners
Going for a walk with your dog is exercise for both of you. It should be an enjoyable time to spend with your pet, but it should also be done using some manners and common sense.
Many dog owners who have not taken the time to properly train their dog to walk on a leash walk their dog on a “flexi” leash. This allows their pet to run back and forth wherever they want or to run and forge ahead to the next tree or fire hydrant. This may be fine for a small dog since you probably won’t get pulled down and most flexi leashes are for small and toy breeds and are very lightweight with a shorter length. If you own a medium or large dog however, this can be very dangerous--especially if the sidewalk is wet and/or slippery. If your dog is on a flexi leash you don’t have full control of your dog and if they see another dog or a squirrel and decide to bolt, you’re going to go with them.
You should never allow your dog to run up to other dogs or people you may encounter on your walk. Not everyone wants to meet your pup and there are many people who have a genuine fear of dogs. If you see people who have stopped to talk to each other or if they are in the middle of a “training” session, you should never assume that they want to meet your pet. On the contrary, you should keep your dog under control and walk around them or cross the street so no one is bothered.
Another thing to remember is that if your dog is being walked on a flexi leash they have the potential to use a neighbour’s lawn to do their business. If you’re not paying attention you may miss picking up the poop or be unable to find it (especially if there are a lot of leaves on the ground). As a responsible pet owner, it is always courteous to have your dog urinate or defecate on the boulevard rather than a front lawn and you should always pick up after your pet. At night, take a flashlight with you so you can find and pick up after your pet.
Flexi leashes are great to use in a park or other large area where there is room to roam and gives your four-legged friend a bit of freedom without getting away from you. They should not be used on city streets where there is a lot of traffic–both cars and people. A flexi leash has the potential of allowing your pup to run into the road or to bolt into oncoming vehicles, bicycles, baby carriages or strollers.
Another word of caution if you are using a flexi leash to walk your dog: be sure that it is a good quality leash. Make sure that you inspect the full length of the leash line on a regular basis for signs of wear and tear so that it doesn’t suddenly snap or break while you’re out. Also, if you’re are walking in the rain or snow, be sure that you fully extend the leash line when you get home and allow it to dry out naturally and completely before letting it wind back up.
If you are a new pet owner, you would be well advised to teach your pup to walk properly beside you on a standard six-foot lead. This will give you full control of your dog and enable you to fully enjoy your walk without being pulled and dragged down the street.
So stay safe and practice good walking manners.