Are you overwhelmed by the prospect of walking multiple dogs at the same time? If so, consider the following five steps to help you feel safe and relaxed and, most importantly, make your walks pleasurable and successful experiences.
1. Begin with the proper equipment. As a dog walker (whether they’re your own dogs or other people’s), you must ensure that each dog has the appropriate collar or harness and a durable leash. When selecting separate leashes for several dogs, avoid retractable leashes since they’re not as easy to manage as regular ones. Consider purchasing a dog leash coupler or leash splitter that serves to attach multiple leashes to a single handle. Make certain, as well, to bring along a sufficient number of doggy bags to pick up whatever the dogs leave behind along the way.
2. Work on – and perfect — each dog’s leash manners beforehand. If a dog misbehaves when he’s being walked alone, this will prove problematic when you attempt to walk him with a “pack” of dogs. Any ill-mannered dog will be harder to manage in a group, and his restlessness or pulling can cause even the best-behaved dogs to become unruly. Therefore, it’s essential that each dog is fully leash-trained before his paws even hit the pavement!
3. Tailor your walks to meet the slowest dog’s needs. While different breeds clearly have different energy levels and fitness abilities, they don’t always correspond to their size. Example: A tiny Yorkie with boundless energy and a large Australian shepherd with arthritic hips and legs. Therefore, whenever you’re walking multiple dogs, keep a watchful eye on the slowest dog to avoid overtaxing him during a long walk. If this means shortening the walk, and the other, more energetic dogs haven’t received sufficient exercise, engage them afterwards in rousing games of fetch or tug-o-war.
4. Always take along a bag of high-value treats. One can never predict what may happen during a walk – from a leash breaking, a squirrel darting across your path to a big, unfamiliar dog barreling your way, dragging a loose leash behind him. Whatever the size of your dogs, large and/or small, treats can work wonders in helping you regain control over them in such unexpected, and potentially dangerous, situations. If one dog in particular seems unduly upset or overly distracted by the incident, stop and calm him back down with gentle words and several tempting treats. In fact, you should always reward your dogs for the good behavior they display during your walks.
5. Practice makes perfect. Nothing is truer than this age-old axiom. The best way for you to feel most relaxed and most confident when walking multiple dogs at once is through practice. The more often you take your dogs out for group walks, the more you’ll all enjoy them.
By Nomi Berger