Multi-dog walking is a lot of fun, but can also be challenging. Here’s what you need to know before heading out with your pack.
Why have just one dog, when you can have two, or more? Just keep in mind that you have to exercise them all! Multi-dog walking is a great idea, especially when time is at a premium, but it can pose some problems if you’re not prepared.
Training is paramount
Walking several untrained dogs at once can pose a danger not only to you, but to innocent bystanders too. Training techniques should start as early as possible in a dog’s life. It not only benefits your dog but allows you to acclimatize to each dog’s temperament and agility.
Although training should be consistent for satisfactory results, it doesn’t need to be elaborate. “Sit” and “stay” commands should be included, and a game called “no pull” can be very useful – if the dog walks forward and causes the leash to tighten, stop until he returns to walk at your side.
A multi-dog walk may include canines of any size, age, personality and activity level. The idea of walking two Jack Russell Terriers and a German Shepherd together may tempt you to think twice, but these differences shouldn’t deter you. Nevertheless, it’s important to gauge each dog individually, as well as how he relates to the others in his pack. For example, puppies are generally more energetic than older dogs and their differences might create an alarming conflict unless the dogs have already adapted comfortably within the same household.
Group the dogs by activity level. For instance, if a couple of dainty Pomeranians are going to walk with a Rottweiler and a Doberman, put the needs of the least physically able dog’s first.
Walking one or more dogs? Smoochy Poochy has you covered with their Canadian-made durable hands free leash. Available in an array of wonderful colours, Smoochy couples convenience with comfort that will fit into you and your dog’s lifestyle. Visit smoochypoochy.com or call (416) 407.8898.
Gear for multi-dog walking
Look for sturdy, quality materials, and ensure collars are neither too tight nor too loose on the dogs’ necks. If you have one or more dogs that insist on pulling, a harness might be a better bet. Do not use choke chains.
Again, durable quality products are safer and more comfortable for the dog. A harness relieves neck pressure and avoids choking dogs with weak windpipes or respiratory problems.
Choose a strong lead approximately 4’ to 6’ feet in length to provide reasonable security for a multi-dog walk.
This nylon extension (designed for multi-dog walking) divides in two to separate each leash and reduce tangling.
Safety is a top priority when it comes to multi-dog walking, and you must factor in your own capabilities, such as fitness level, vigilance and speed.
Physics play a major role in keeping a pack under control. For example, a 120-pound woman should think twice about walking two 150-pound English Mastiffs simultaneously. The weight of the woman compared to the dogs’ combined weight means they could easily drag her off her feet on a wild pursuit after a squirrel or rabbit. In a case like this, it is best to ask a partner or friend to walk one of the dogs.
If any of your dogs become easily agitated or even aggressive, scan the environment continuously during your walk. Go for walks during off-peak hours when there is less traffic or other dog walkers, to minimize your own dogs’ excitability. It doesn’t matter whether you have two dogs or six. If they’re trained, sociable and well behaved, and if you have the right gear and are keeping everyone’s safety and comfort in mind, it can be a wonderful way for you to step out together. Best of all, no one has to be left at home!
Keep these suggestions in mind
- Tailor your walks to the dog’s ability. A ten-kilometre hike over rugged terrain might be fine for a Siberian Husky, but not a Pomeranian.
- Keep the duration of your walks consistent, whether it’s ten minutes or an hour. If your dog is used to only trotting around the block during the w eek, she may overdo it if you take her out for a day-long ramble on the weekend.
- Keep an eye on your dog during walks. If he star ts to lag behind or pant excessively, it’s time for a rest.
- If you’re walking any distance, always carry water for your dog, winter or summer. Don’t let him drink from puddles, lakes or streams.
- Avoid road salt in winter and hot asphalt in summer; alt ernatively, get your dog a set of pr otective booties.
- Wear reflectors for nighttime walking; your dog should also have a reflector on his collar or leash.
- Keep walks short if the weather is extreme, especially if temperatures are excessively cold or hot.
- Depending on your dog’s breed, you might consider canine apparel such as a rainproof jacket or snug sweater or coat.
- Vary your route, to prevent boredom in both you and your dog.
- Use caution when approaching other walkers, children or dogs, or folks on bikes and skateboards.
- Avoid areas that have been sprayed with pesticides.
- Make sure your dog is wearing adequate ID.
- Consider your own safety, especially at night, and avoid isolated or poorly lit areas.
- In urban areas, be aware of the risk of sidew alk electrocution, and avoid damaged lamp posts, any exposed wiring, or metal objects in or on broken concrete.
- Always clean up after your dog, no matter where you’re walking her.
Chamois Beal Lopez is a freelance writer who has written health and animal-related articles for trade journals and online publications. She practices calligraphy or yoga when she's not walking her Chihuahua and three Yorkshire Terriers.