We love hearing from our readers. Mary M. recently gave us a great topic to address to help you keep your dog safe when walking in low-light situations, such as evenings and early mornings. As you know by reading some of our other Responsible Pet Ownership posts, we’re all about finding ways to help you keep your pets safe, healthy and happy.
Do you walk your dog early in the morning as the sun is coming up or late in the evening when dusk makes dangerous shadows? Believe it or not, wearing reflective clothing yourself is not enough to protect your dog. Driving at this time of morning or evening is dangerous, and no matter how careful a driver may be there is always a chance of them not seeing your dog. Yes, I know that the side of the road is supposed to be a safe area for walking your dog, but accidents happen. People look away from the road and veer off the side, or shadows can make it difficult to discern where the edge of the road is, not to mention making it hard to see a person or dog in the gloom.
Besides having some sort of reflective clothing on yourself, you should also make sure your dog has a reflective safety vest, reflective leash and collar. Glow in the dark items are also helpful in the event that headlights don’t hit you. Making you and your dog visible even in very low light is important for keeping you both safe. There is no such thing as too much reflective safety gear when it comes to keeping your dog safe.
I have yet to find a dog who doesn’t enjoy going on walks. However, the problem is that not all dogs are leash trained, nor are they all friendly. Sometimes, a meeting between two dogs doesn’t go as well as both owners expected. I recently heard about a new idea in collars, leashes and harnesses, with messages that can help make dog walking safer for dogs, their owners and other people.
A company in the United Kingdom has come up with a simple way to send a clear signal to people approaching with their dog or someone just walking that tells them if a dog is friendly, isn’t interested in making a new friend, or needs space to stay calm. Dexil’s Friendly Dog Collars were designed to let strangers know what a dog’s temperament is like before they are near him. The purpose of the collars is to hopefully cut down on dog-on-dog encounters and dogs biting people who simply want to pet them. It’s a system based on a traffic light.
You can get a collar, lead or harness with a simple message embroidered in black on them. A green collar with the word “Friendly” means that the dog is good with adults, kids and other dogs. Orange with “No Dogs” means he’s happy to meet people, but he’s not good with other dogs. Red with “Caution” means to stay away, and do not approach this dog. He needs his space and doesn’t want you to pet him.
Other messages are available, including two for special needs pets. A gold color signifies a “Nervous” dog that may be unpredictable if approached. White is for a “Blind Dog” that may be limited in his sight or completely blind. White is also used for “Deaf Dog,” which means he’s hard of hearing or completely deaf. Blue says “Training,” for dogs being trained by their owner, so please do not disturb. Yellow is a good one for shelters and rescue groups; it says “Adopt Me.”
Most of us have met or at least seen a shy, fearful dog at some point. Maybe a neighbor has one, perhaps you’ve seen one in a shelter, or you may be like me and share your life with one. You’ll know a dog is shy and fearful because he will look at you out of the corner of his eyes, never making full eye contact. He may act as if he wants to greet you, but stooping down to say hello elicits raised hackles and growls or barks. If he does allow you to get close enough to pat him, even if you take it slowly he will likely flinch and step out of range.
When we rescued our dog, she was painfully shy. She wouldn’t even stand up on 4 legs; she did the belly crawl with her head hung low. Still, she reached in and grabbed my heart. There were other, equally needy pups that needed a home at that time; well-mannered dogs that seemed happy even in the face of horrific conditions. I would have taken them all if possible but I had to pick one. I knew the little white dog that tried to be invisible would take a lot of work but I couldn’t imagine going home without her. And so the work began.
Our dog came to live with us when she was approximately 10-months old. Dog experts seem to agree that nervousness and fearfulness develops as young dogs mature, and that the problem often stems from improper socialization during their prime puppyhood socialization window.
Puppy Socialization Window
The American Kennel Club (AKC) website outlines critical periods in a puppy’s development, which they call “socialization windows.” Almost all of a puppy’s personality is shaped during his first year of life, and the first 12 weeks are the most important. The AKC website cites the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) when reporting that sociability outweighs fear in a puppy’s early stage, making this “the primary window of opportunity for puppies to adapt to new people, animals, and experiences.” It is during this time that a puppy first learns to enjoy the company of people, to act properly around other dogs, and to experience a range of circumstances and situations without fear.
Have you ever seen a dog walking a person? Perhaps you have even been walked by yourown dog. If so, you know how exhausting it can be to walk a dog incorrectly. The ideal way is for YOU to be walking the dog. Check out a few of these tips to help you learn the right way to walk your dog and ensure that you aren’t the one worn out at the end of the exercise.
Walk in Front
From my own experiences with walking my dogs, the proper way to walk a dog is with you in front and the dog following along. A better way to look at it is for you to lead the walk, not your dog. Putting yourself in the role of leader during a walk allows your dog to relax and follow along.
To help start the walk out correctly, do not allow your dog to go first out of the door or gate of his pen. Begin the walk in the position of leadership so your dog understands that his only job is to enjoy the exercise – not to lead you along.
Dog walking is an activity that takes time and energy. After a hard day’s work, it’s not always easy to pull yourself out of your chair to take the dogs for a walk, especially if they don’t have good leash etiquette. However, walking your dogs on a daily basis creates a unity in your pack that helps them learn they belong together. Dog walking as a group teaches dogs they are a family and you are the one in control.
When you have more than one dog, their personalities can get in the way during playtime. One may be a ball hog and another may be shy and won’t play because their personality holds them back. Another dog may be jealous and does everything in their power to interfere in your playtime with others in the pack. And trying to reward with treats can bring out food aggression issues in some dogs who don’t want to share. You may be tempted to just give up because of the hassle involved with interacting with more than one dog. But since you are the leader, it’s up to you to find that one activity that can bring everyone together as one, and dog walking is the best way to do that.
The personal opinions and/or use of trade, firm, corporation or brand names, in this blog is for the information and convenience of the reader. Such use does not constitute an official endorsement or approval by CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company of any product or service to the exclusion of others that may be suitable. All opinions in this blog are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company.