Monday, October 5, 2015

How will you celebrate #DogWalkingWeek 2015?

Liam the pug and Sinead the Boston terrier prepare for a walk
Two times a day, these two sweet dogs gear up for a walk with me. We go before I sit down at my desk to work, and we go again when I'm ready to call it a night. It's just part and parcel of what we do as a family, and it's important to both my mental health and the physical fitness of my dogs.

But this week, we're trying to walk even more. Why? Because we're taking part in the annual Walk Your Dog Week Celebration, held between October 1 and October 7. The idea is to encourage every dog owner out there to hit the bricks with a beloved pet and write up a few notes about the experience. Maybe, the thinking goes, people who never walk their dogs will be inspired to do so once they read up on the benefits.

When I told my husband we'd be participating, I saw him give a little flinch. And I don't blame him, as Liam and Sinead can be a little difficult to walk. I wrote a little about that in this blog post, and using treats has really helped to curb some of the problems. But there's one more thing that I've found really helpful: A splitter.

Pug and Boston terrier suited up for a walk
A splitter ties the two dogs together, so they can be walked with the same leash. And it comes with an added benefit. When these two dogs are tied together, they can work to train one another. That's ideal when you have two dogs that react to slightly different things.

When Sinead grows fearful of an approaching person and hopes to dart behind me to hide, Liam's weight holds her in place in front of me, so I can work on redirecting her. And when Liam wants to take a hard right in order to veer away to pee on something new, Sinead can redirect him with a body block and soften his pull. The two work together to stay in line.

Liam and Sinead prepare for their walk
The bummer with this approach is that only one person holds the leash. That means someone is walking beside a person walking the dogs. That someone (usually my husband) can feel a little left out.

But it's hard to deny the pleasure of walking two dogs that are both paying more attention to the human and paying attention to one another. It makes longer walks possible.

And that's great news, as we're heading on a long and favored walk every day as part of this challenge. A park about a half-mile from my house is just stuffed full of old-growth pines stretching up to the skies, and those trees are packed full of migrating birds this time of year. The dogs absolutely adore this park, and we're visiting it much more often. That's how we're celebrating.

How about you? What will you do to mark the occasion? Click here ind out more about how it works, and how you can get involved.

8 comments:

  1. One of our neighbors has one of those Boston terriers that they let out on their porch all alone. Every time TW passed, the dog would jump by the edge of the porch, growl and scare TW half to death. She never knew what kind of dog it was but it’s a dead ringer for Sinead. The dog has finally calmed down and don’t growl anymore. Good luck on your challenge.

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    1. Wow, poor little BT! Glad to hear it's no longer such a scary neighborhood presence!

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  2. I've seen those splitters and always wondered how well they worked. Sound like it's been a good fit for you.

    I've had some excitement walking foster puppies with Honey. But I don't think there's any leash that makes walking an 8 week old puppy and a calm golden retriever easy. :)

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    1. I'd imagine that the calm senior would pull that little puppy around on a splitter.... or maybe it would be the other way around!

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  3. I have tried a splitter but it didn't work that well for me. But that's because I had two beagles that pulled, and instead of pulling against each other like I thought they would, they ganged up to both pull me! That was the old days though...now I try to train my dogs to walk better than I used to. I may have to try a splitter again one day, I'm so glad it's working so well for you! I'm also jealous your hubby walks with you...I can't get mine interested in it.
    Thanks for joining our #DogWalkingWeek celebration!

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    1. You ended up with a team! That's never happened here. I think my two are control freaks. They'd much rather try to keep one another in line than try to do something together. Silly kids :)

      Hubby and I really love the walks together. We chit-chat about the day and catch up on things. He doesn't like to go when it rains, of course, but neither do I!

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  4. Mom recently tried a splitter and gave up on it. For her, it took too much strength in one arm to control both of us, making her always look down. She ended up with so much pain in her neck and back she had to get a massage to help. She tried it because a friend uses one for her dogs but the dogs have to be compatible for it to work. Thanks for joining #DogWalkingWeek!

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    1. Or maybe the dogs need to be incompatible... I've heard others say that splitters encourage their dogs to work like a team (Mush! Mush!), so they pull even harder. Mine pull against one another, so it reduces the amount they pull on me :)

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