Walking dogs at Homeless Pets has become a regular routine for me. I try at least 3-4 times a week to go over there. I enjoy spending time with the dogs and get to know their personality.Unfortunately, these dogs spend their entire day in a little cage. Consequently, they have a lot of energy and therefore it takes calmness and assertiveness to get the dogs under control.
I see many volunteer dog walkers who are taken on a walk by the dog. Before they open the cage, they already speak in a high pitch voice to the dogs. Bad idea since that kind of energy is excited energy which a pinned up dog doesn’t need. They take the dog out and rather than taking control of the situation, the dogs just take off. I wonder if these people actually enjoy walking these dogs like that. I could imagine if they had more control over the dogs and wouldn’t have to hold on to the leash as much, they probably would come and walk dogs more often because they wouldn’t feel so exhausted from the walk.
Then there are others who spend the entire time talking on the cell phone while walking the dogs. Sure, everyone has different opinions but I truly believe that you cannot control a dog completely while talking on the cell phone. Besides, ou don’t even share your energy with the dog since you are preoccupied with your cell phone.
I believe when you want to walk a dog effectively:
You want to keep your focus on the task at hand. Stay in the present.
Stay calm and assertive. When you take the dog out of the cage, you don’t need to speak with the dog. The dog checked you already out by sniffing your energy. The less you say, the better. Just open the cage and let the dog approach you. Once the dog is in your reach, put the leash on and let the dog step outside of the cage. Most of the dogs haven’t been taught obedience so that they won’t sit on command. However before you step outside, get focused, ask the dog to control him / herself before you take the first step. Let them know who is in control of the walk.
When you open the door, you are the first who steps out. The dog always follows you. After all, you don’t want to have the dog in front of you when suddenly another volunteer walks in with their dog and the dogs could possibly get into a fight.
Avoid affection within the first 10 minutes of your walk. Why would you want to massage or caress an out-of-control dog? Dogs crave more exercise than affection. Let them work for your affection. The work that they need to provide is a controlled walk on the leash.
Take the dog for a walk and not across the street. I see way too many dog walkers just going across the street and then they stand around. What kind of crap is that? Dogs don’t want to stand around. They want to use their legs. They need to be challenged mentally.
Pick up the dog’s feces. Nothing is worse than stepping into dog’s poop.
Once you and the dog walked a good round, then it is okay to stop and give the dog some affection.
Sometimes, when I am there with only 1 or 2 other walkers I tend to start panicking. I think that I need to hurry up to get the next dog or I think what dog I will take out next. And these are the times when I always have to remind myself, that I am not with the dog that I currently walk. Rather than worrying about what will happen in the future, focus on the now, focus on the dog that I am currently with and enjoy his or her presence. Since most of the dogs there are big dogs I always make sure that I get at least 20 minutes in with each dog. Of course, therefore it happened that I spend 3 1/2 hours at the shelter even tough I just wanted to spend 45 minutes there.
Sloan thinks that I have issues with saying “no” to others but I don’t. I can easily say “no” to people but I cannot say “no” to these animals.