Christina Evans is a dog trainer with CNY Pet Training & Behavior. She co-teaches a class called Beast on a Leash, for dogs who are reactive—barky, growly, pully. She also knows a lot about ordinary dogs and the mischief they can get into. Evans lives in Clay with her husband, Bobby, children, Ava, 10, and Max, 7, and dogs, Winston, 3, and Trina, 12. She offered some of her best advice for taking your dog out and about.
1. LET’S GO!
Your dog enjoys walking with you. It’s good for your bond, though it’s not all the exercise a dog needs.
2. DOGGIE ACTIVITY
Typically, a dog needs to run around more than is possible on a short stroll. Every day, make sure you throw your dog a ball or play together with a toy. Evans likes a flirt pole—a squeaky toy attached to a rope attached to a pole.
3. LEASH SPECS
Use a buckle collar, or a front-clip harness if yours is a strong dog. A heavier dog may need a head halter. Clip on a 4-to-6-foot flat leash. A retractable leash is inadvisable because it rewards the dog for pulling. Instead, train your dog to stay by your side, with the leash loose. Training happens with positive reinforcement—also known as treats.
4. POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT
On your walks, bring tasty, stinky treats that powerfully motivate the dog to earn a reward. Milk bones are bland; you want the kind of treat that a dog can smell.
5. OTHER DOGS
Ideally, when walking your leashed pet, you will avoid other dogs. If you are about to approach another dog, change direction or cross the street. Reward your dog with a treat for following you without pulling.
6. KIDS AND THE LEASH
Can a child walk a dog alone? Not until age 13 or 14, Evans says. With a child and a dog, Evans uses a double leash system: She puts her dog on a 4-to-6-foot leash and a 10-to-15-foot leash. The child can hold the short leash, while the adult holds the long one.
7. PEOPLE, MEETING NEW DOGS
There is a proper and safe way to introduce yourself to an unfamiliar dog. A child should learn to ask the adult he is with if he can meet the dog. Then, if he gets the okay, he asks the owner if he can pet the dog. If the owner approves, the child can pet the dog between the collar and the tail. When Evans is the one holding the leash, she asks her dog to sit before meeting someone new. If her dog is wiggly, she will give him or her a treat for remaining by her side.
Bring bags with you, always. Collect your dog’s waste and drop it in a trash can on your route or at home. It’s the right thing to do. Nobody likes to step in poop!