"but I can't walk faster than this"
(when you can't walk as fast as your dog would like you to)
There is a Paul Simon song with the refrain "I can't run but I can walk much faster than this". But I've reached an age where I can't walk faster than a rather slow pace. I would be telling my dogs "I can't run and I can't walk faster than this"
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Before you read this article you should read Teaching a dog to Walk on a Loose Leash. I should have written this years ago, but almost every dog training and puppy rearing book covers the topic more or less well. Until your dog will walk on a loose leash, you won't enjoy going for walks with him. If you seldom take him for walks, he will become more and more difficult to take for walks and more and more difficult to live with. A good walk unloads some of the dog's energy so he will be more relaxed at home and easier to live with.
Always remember the trainer's mantra : "A tired dog is a good dog."
Most of us who are not joggers never could walk or run as fast as a young to mid-life healthy dog would like to move. There's not much point in appologizing for being human. As we age, we tend to slow down even further. There's not much point in appologizing for getting old. At least you are still alive and still taking care of your dog.
So what can you do to provide a faster walk for your dog ? (without hiring a dog-walker or marathon runner to walk the dog for you). What can you do to provide other forms of exercise to supplement the walk and make the dog more willing to enjoy your slower pace ?
Of course many dogs can be taught to enjoy walking at your pace. This is especially so if you do some of your walks in places where there are interesting scents, so the dog slows down to sniff. If you see your dog's nose near the ground and moving in a zig zag pattern, you can be pretty sure the dog is tracking something, probably some animal.
I have the good fortune to be able to walk the farm roads in a large orchard and to walk farm roads above a creek. So usually there are plenty of interesting scents for my dogs. They really seem to enjoy this and they come home ready to "chill out" for a while.
Finally, your dog is aging faster than you are, so at some point the dog may slow down on his own. But don't hold your breath waiting.
One of the best ways for you to move faster is to be on a bicycle. Indeed, you can move faster than most dogs would enjoy.
It's essential to train your dog to walk and jog along side the bike without pulling or lunging. And you want to be able to place your dog on either side of the bike. When bicyling on roads shared with cars, the dog should be on the side away from traffic, which would be the right side of your bike in nations where cars and bikes are on the right side of the road. Ideally, stick to those places where there is a separate bike lane and drivers tend to be respectful of the safety of bicyclists. Better yet, stick to country dirt roads where cars are rare.
There is a device called "Springer" for attaching a dog to a bicycle in a way that greatly reduces the risk of the dog pulling the bicycle over sideways. I do say "reduces" because it does not totally eliminate that risk. I have been jerked down by a fairly small (30 or 40 lb) but feisty terrier.
I strongly recommend using a "girl's" / "women's" bike. The horizontal bar on a "boy's" / "men's" bike makes it harder to step off the bike or plant your feet on the ground , and if the dog jolts the bike over, that bar could hit a male person in a very vulnerable portion of his anatomy. A further alternative would be an "adult tricycle", which should be more stable than a bicycle.
I'd also recommend that you obtain wheel-spoke covers for both bike wheels, thus preventing a tail or paw getting caught. A bicycle store should be able to get these for you and help you attach them. Also make sure that your bike has reflectors and night lights and your dog has a reflective vest if there is the slightest chance that you will ever be out after dark.
To have your dog on leash while you ride your horse requires that the horse be absolutely bomb-proof about ropes tangling in his legs. Otherwise you and your horse and your dog can be in for a horrible accident. My old Sunny was OK about this, but few horses are without training. An older ranch cowpony might well be "rope wise".
To have your dog off leash while you ride your horse, see below for off leash walking generally. The demands on the dog's obedience are even higher, and the dog and horse must be used to one another and calm about each other.
To have your dog on leash running behind a horse drawn vehicle is certainly possible and can be safe. I've done it. Chelsea was easily taught to take position mid-way (ie center) under the axel of my cart. and she did it off leash. (and whenever we passed a water hole where she could dip herself, I'd point at it and say "water, go swim ?" and she would go for a dip and a drink.).
Always remember in warm or hot weather that a horse can work a lot without overheating because horses can sweat, but your dog can overheat dangerously while the horse is just fine. And whatever the weather, a horse probably can go a much longer distance. Be very aware of your dog's condition and safety.
In your own yard, before going out on the walk, you could burn off some of your dog's energy by throwing balls or other toys. Perhaps a frisbee or perhaps a Kong.
If your yard or other safely fenced area is large enough, you can throw a ball further with one of those ball flinger devices (you will see these at the dog park) and even further with a tennis racquet (even though you are no match for Venus or Serena or Martina).
Do notice if a pre-walk session of Fetch does make your dog more accepting of your walking pace. If instead it just makes him more excited, thus more impatient on the walk, then this idea won't help you. Do your ball play at some other time. "Your mileage may vary"
Dog parks differ greatly in the degree of civility and safety for the dogs and for the people.
Before you ever take your dog to a dog park, visit several times without a dog. Watch to see if the other dogs are all pleasantly social with each other. Watch to see if the people are paying attention to their dogs and are quick to intervene in any potential trouble. Ask the people if there have been any problems at the park. Inspect the fencing to be sure it is sound.
If your dog is small in size or timid in nature, you want a park that has a separate section reserved for small dogs. Our Davis dog park initially didn't have one, but many of us petitioned for that and got it created.
Of course your own dog MUST be totally good with all kinds of other dogs. Your dog must be fluent in doggie social body language. Some dogs just are not sufficiently wonderful with meeting stranger dogs, and such dogs simply don't belong at the dog park.
If your dog likes running games with other dogs, your dog can get a lot of exercise at the park. But if your dog would rather hang out with people or plop down in the shade, then this is not going to result in exercise.
Note : going to the park probably won't get you to exercise yourself. You are likely to stand around talking to other dog people, which is pleasant but is not a form of exercise. Do not get so absorbed in conversations that you fail to watch your dog and be ready to interrupt potential trouble !
A dog who might not be OK with large groups of dogs or with dogs who are strangers to him may be perfectly fine with one or more well known dog buddies. Play dates with such a buddy in your own yard or the buddy's yard can be a great source of playful exercise for both dogs. And if you and the other dog's person are compatible, you both may enjoy this too.
A repeated exchange of play dates may also set you both up to be emergency dog-sitters for one another. Try an over-night or weekend visit first while the visiting dog's person is easily available.
See article Going for a Walk Off Leash which covers the essential pre-requisites of a safe place to walk and a dog whose recall ("Come") is bombproof. SAFETY has to always be your over-riding concern.
If your dog is into fetching balls or sticks, this can be added to the walk.
Do intersperse your walk with a few obedience cues and responses. Frequent recalls are highly advised. Sits and Downs and Stays are also good. Short periods of Heel can be added.return to top of page
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