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Pet Peeves: Whose Walk Is It, Anyway?

Written by Michelle Kretzer | November 28, 2012

Hannah, my German shepherd-something-something-something mix, and I love our walks. I let her choose which direction she wants to head in, and we ramble off in search of new sights and smells.

No matter which path strikes Hannah’s fancy, we always seem to see other dogs out for their evening strolls whose guardians act like it’s a race to the end of the block. When the dogs try to stop and sniff something, send some “pee-mail,” or greet Hannah, their guardians sometimes yank them away and drag them down the street. You can practically see the dog’s nose twitching, trying desperately to catch whatever interesting smells he or she can as their human rushes along like a marathoner.

I’ve developed a little trick to use when Hannah starts to approach a dog or when another dog wants to stop and sniff near us: I say to her, loud enough for the other guardian to hear, “OK, just say ‘Hi’ for a minute,” and that’s usually sufficient to spare the other dog a bad case of leash-lash. My boss, who is equally irked by leash-lashers, takes a more direct approach. She matter-of-factly says, “Can our dogs meet for a minute?” or “Why don’t we just let them sniff?”

When a friend of mine is out and sees anyone with a dog—although she doesn’t have one—she always stops and says, “Oh, what a beautiful, smart face!” or “They love to be outdoors, don’t they?” to get people to appreciate their dogs and to remember how much walks matter to them. When provoked, that friend can bite, too! Seeing someone dragging a dog along or keeping a leash too tight, she will say to the guardian, “Boy, that dog isn’t allowed much fun on his walk, is he!”

Whatever approach works, I think we owe it to dogs to try to stop their guardians from yanking them away from whatever they’re interested in, denying them the social interaction and ability to explore surroundings that they need and crave and possibly even injuring them. When you consider that a walk is the highlight of the day for most dogs, don’t they deserve to enjoy it?

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  • Heidi says:

    I hope not everyone that sees me walking my two dogs judges me for not letting them greet another dog or thinks I’m dragging them on their walks! My two beagles are canine vacuum cleaners so while I give them plenty of time to sniff and investigate ‘pee mail’ I do have to pull them (they are on harnesses) away from chicken bones and other discarded food litter because they will definitely eat it all! Also not all dogs are up for meet and greets on leash! My one dog has bad on-leash reactivity. Through positive reinforcement we’ve been able to counter condition his responses to seeing other dogs on street to a while and a few howls but he’ll never be able to meet another dog onleash in an urban setting. I’d just like to add that in addition to the daily sidewalk walks, my dogs also get plenty of off-leash exercise and sniffing time at dog parks! So I hope people don’t judge me based on what they might witness in a few minutes. For your reference:

  • Jenn says:

    While I can appreciate the sentiments behind this post, there are a few things I want to point out. One is that the walk is just as much for me as it is for my dogs, and to get enough calories burned I have to walk fast (of course I make sure they’re not being overly taxed). Two, I have three dogs and only one of them is a stop-and-sniff dog (a Beagle – go figure). The other two are let’s-keep-going-to-see-everything dogs. Should they be forced to stop when only one of them wants to sniff? Three, if I gave my dogs free rein to stop and sniff everything, we’d be out there all day! Plus my two little ones have to have at least half a dozen bathroom breaks between them – should I let them eat up even more of my time aimlessly sniffing when they’re lucky they’re even being walked in the first place? Thousands of dog owners don’t even walk their dogs – as far as I’m concerned, my dogs should be grateful to even get the chance to troll around the neighborhood a few times a week. Don’t get me wrong, I love my dogs and treat them the same as if they were my kids but I don’t get so wrapped up in their “needs” that I forget my own.

  • sarah says:

    So I just have to ask? If you force someone with a dog to stop and that dog Attacks your dog and Injures it greatly Who would you be mad at yourself or the owner of the dog who you forced to stop? Some dogs are just not Friendly to there kind I had one dog that if someone asked me to stop I would have said Do you want your dog shreaded? Not all dogs get along exspcially when they do not know each other forceing someone to stop IS just asking for trouble