Yesterday, I had a friend post a Facebook video about what is proper etiquette when walking dogs. She had three with her and struggled to pass a person with one dog who wouldn’t move out of the way. While I can relate to her frustration (I’m often walking four!) there’s some tips and tricks to walking multiple dogs that can make your life so much easier.
1. Train each dog individually – I can not over emphasize the importance of this! Your dogs need one on one attention so giving them that attention is a crucial part of having more than one dog.
The other issue is that the dogs can feed off each other. So if one dog is barking/lunging at people/dogs than chances are your other one will jump in too. Take the time to develop strong obedience skills one on one.
2. Ensure you are well set up with the proper equipment. I use a variety of tools for dog walking depending on the dog but the most important thing is that what I am using fits! If a dog can get out of their harness or collar and you have two others on leash it can be a disaster. Ensure everything you use fits and is effective. I recommend harnesses like the Freedom Harness for most dogs.
If you are walking off leash ensure your dogs listens well enough to be off leash. Don’t assume it’s ok to let your dog run up to other people’s. Use a long line if you’re unsure about your dog’s ability to recall and do some training on that skill.
3. Use paths/trails where there’s lots of room to get out of the way when you see someone else coming by. I like to move my crew out of the way (because I don’t trust the other person to do so) and ask them to pay attention to me while the dog/person passes. This sometimes means moving pretty far off if the passing dog looks out of control.
4. Only take the amount of dogs that you can handle in an emergency. My dogs all have strong stays and focus around distraction. However if I have a friend’s dog or a client’s dog with me than I generally won’t take everyone all together. I may only take one or two at a time. You never know what the world is going to throw at you so ensure you have good control even when things go wrong. An example would be an off leash, stray dog attacks one of the dogs you are walking – if you have too many how will you break it up?
5. Carry emergency equipment. I live in Bear and Cougar country so I need to prepare for that but even if you’re walking in the city you need to be prepared for a dog fight. I carry an airhorn with me on walks and I recommend others do the same.
Walk safely! Train your dog for success!