I, like all people in this industry, love animals! Having 12 cats and 4 dogs of my own, I can honestly tell you trying to organize them, in the beginning, gave me a headache. But now I very much enjoy taking my dogs on walks and hikes all over and have found some helpful ways to keep everyone safe and happy during our adventures.
Now, having an organized pack is not something that comes overnight, and is something you constantly have to work on. Time, patience and consistency are key when it comes to any form of training with your dog. Here are some tips and tricks on organizing your fur babies.
Have a designated walking spot for everyone.
By that, I mean when I walk my dogs, each one has a specific spot that they walk – a “walking formation.” It ensures that leashes don’t get tangled, and there is no confusion on where to stand.
Teach helpful Commands.
On our walks, I use a handful of words to communicate to my pets what it is we are about to do. For example, if someone is walking towards us, I will say “OVER” to indicate to them that we are going to move off the sidewalk to the grass to let them pass. I then say “WAIT” so that they understand we are going to wait for the person to pass and not interact with them. It teaches them manners and boundaries with people, plus you should never assume someone wants to interact with your dog. I also use the command “WAIT” in the situation when one of them is going to the bathroom — it is because I want them to stand still at this point and not get tangled while I am trying to pick up poop. I have also taught them “RIGHT” and “LEFT” to make changing directions less confusing. And because you never know what you are going to find on walks, from other animals poop to discarded food, I have taught them “LEAVE IT” to prevent them from eating things that are potentially harmful to them. This command is also useful when we come across other animals to communicate with the dogs that we are not to interact with them.
Use a walking apparatus that work for your dog.
Finding the right combination of harness and halter has been essential in creating an organized walking atmosphere. I use a NewTrix face halter with 2 of my dogs who are easily distracted. When I have control of their face, it allows me to bring them back to the task at hand without having to use much effort. For my non-puller, I have recently switched over to a FLUID Motion Harness from JettaJacks. I use it because it allows him to walk comfortably without getting friction sores under his arms.
What to take away from all this is that it takes time and it can be frustrating, but with patience, repetition and finding what works for both you and your pack it can be a very rewarding experience. And always bring extra poop bags!
Written by: Jessica Lovell, VT