How to Navigate Different Personalities When Walking Multiple Dogs
As you walk down the street with one faithful friend keeping pace at your heel, another on a fully stretched leash threatening your shoulder socket, and yet another barking at every living thing within a half-mile radius you ask yourself, “Is it really possible to walk more than one dog at a time?”
The honest answer? Yes. But, you need strategies.
You see, dogs aren’t so different to us humans. You’ve got the shy, timid type who hates a loud, crazy (dog walking) party and would rather stay home and snuggle on the sofa. Then, there are the independent ones, who love to exercise, but feel zero need to socialize with every dog or human who decides they want to chat. The laidback, happy dog? He’s a winner on a dog walk, but you might not get more than a few steps at a time as he simply must greet everyone on his path with a “high five.” Your confident dog, is a natural leader and a good team player and will likely lead the way while wondering what all the fuss is about. Finally, there’s the adaptable dog, who, eager to please, is most likely to obey your every command (just don’t forget those treats.)
Now imagine, for just one moment, that this is you and four friends heading out for a power walk. It could get pretty chaotic. While Susan wants to stop and catch up with everyone she even mildly recognizes en route, Clara might just lose her mind if she has to say “hi” to one more person. Being people, we set rules, learn to read social cues, and generally work around each others’ personalities. The question is, how do we successfully achieve this when walking multiple dogs? Read on to find out.
TEACH THE RULES ON SOLO WALKS
First Things First: Make sure you truly understand each individual dog’s personality and quirks by walking them individually. This way, you’ll get to know which dog has the most rambunctious personality and is most likely to get aggressive/panicked/excited by oncoming dogs and people. The one caveat here is to be prepared. Even the most mild-mannered dog can be wound up and act out of character when walking with an over-excitable dog.
As well as getting to know each dogs’ personality, individual walks are also a good time to make sure each one understands your basic dog-walking rules before you try to manage the whole crew together. While you’re at it, use this time to put an end to leash pulling and establish their “side” of you on which to walk. Establishing side preference through reward goes a long way. Speaking of treats...
DON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT TREATS
At least, don’t leave home without treats when you first embark on your multiple-dog-walking endeavor. Whether you are coaching “sit” and “stay” or reinforcing good behavior, treats are your friend. You might decide to wean your dogs off them once you feel you have things under control, but don’t be afraid to use them on your journey to creating the closest-to-perfect multiple-dog-walking-pack your team can together achieve.
INVEST IN THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT
Whether you are walking two dogs or five, there are leashes designed for your unique circumstances. Try a double leash but look for one that provides tangle-free functionality. You can even buy a no-tangle coupler to go with your favorite leash. Just don’t forget to #spleashyourleash so you’re ready to fend off (with a harmless squirt of water) any off-leash, unruly dog that decides charging your pack is a good idea. On that note, you’ll appreciate the extra hand your Spleash gives you while still being able to give a thirsty dog a drink, or wash down the path after bathroom breaks.
SCOUT YOUR ROUTE
Are you likely to head into a packed two-way walking path which leaves you and your pack little room for maneuver? Is your chosen route akin to the freeway at 4pm on a Friday afternoon? Then it might be a good idea to do a little location scouting before taking the whole crew out. Unless you have miles and miles of open terrain on your doorstep, you can actually benefit from a walking path with parked cars and/or bushes and trees. That way, if you do happen to come face-to-face with an oncoming dog or dogs who rile up your pack, you’ll have options for breaking the line of sight. Similarly, check to see when your walking path is busiest and opt for a quieter time with less distraction.
PAY ATTENTION TO HUMAN CUES
As we mentioned earlier, humans and dogs are not so different. Along your dog walking journey you are going to encounter highly nervous dog owners who flinch at the sight of your pack, those who are so friendly they forget your dogs might not be, and owners who are distracted and don’t notice you coming. As a responsible dog walker -- especially one of multiple dogs -- it’s up to you to stay alert and read cues from other dog walkers. If you notice a nervous personality, cross the road, go back the way you came, take a different route, or have your dogs sit behind a parked car for a moment. That over-friendly dog walker? By simply crossing the street or moving out of their path you will hopefully give a hint that you’d prefer to keep on your way without stopping.
Ultimately, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to walking more than one dog at the same time. The key to success when walking a pack:
Knowing your dogs well,
Ensuring your dogs understand the pack’s rules
Have the right equipment like SPLEASH™
With these tips, success is assured and you (all) can avoid becoming a tangled mess. The rest, as they say, is up to you. Happy dog walking!
By Zoe Oksanen