Driving down the street on the way to the park I got a red light. As we sat waiting for the light to turn green I noticed a group of people out for a walk. It took me a minute to notice the tiny dog in among the people but when I did, I got today's blog topic. The dog was small, maybe 20lbs. It was the sort of dog that I call a Disney dog; wiry hair with facial scruff, very cute. But the dog was wincing at every step; why? Because the owner was swinging her arms so much as she walked that the dog was being whipped in the face by his own leash.
I see this often and realize that a good number of people never consider the dog when they are walking. Yes I know that walking and swinging your arms is natural; it is in fact desired if you are working out. But it is not desirable if you are a dog walking beside a swinging arm person. Keeping my arm immobile was ingrained into my head by one of my obedience trainers years ago. She made us keep our left hand in our pocket so as not to cause our dogs to walk further behind us, caused by a swinging arm. Many people even hit their dog in the face with their hand while walking without noticing.
I watch; I watch dogs and I watch dogs and their people so I notice stuff. This arm swinging thing is not an uncommon thing; I see it quite a bit. There are several things that can make a dog's walk not so enjoyable from swinging arms. 1. The leash itself can whip the dog in the face like the little Disney dog that I saw. 2. The dog walker can hit the dog in the face with their hand, and 3. The buckle on the dogs leash can be hitting the dog in the face. Of course this problem can be made worse by the dogs size. Many very small dogs suffer from this because they are so low to the ground that there is no way that their owners hand is below them.
The leash is an essential part of a walk for most of us. What type of buckle is on your leash? I like the old fashion bolt snap; the type of buckle that has that little lever that you pull down to open it up. I do not like the newer version ones where you push in the lever. I like a small buckle, you don't need a huge buckle to keep you dog safely attached to you if you have a quality leash. I do not want a buckle that is so large and bulky that it actually hits my dog in the face when we walk.
My dogs are right in line for some face hitting if I swing my arm when I walk so I am very aware of how I walk. I keep my hand glued to me if we are power walking. If we are just meandering around the park then I try to keep them from swinging at all. Dogs can learn a great deal of bad habits from an owner's bad walking form. Many learn to walk at a distance to avoid the constant face smacking. An owner may never even realize what has happened and why their dog will not walk closely.
When you walk, look down. Are you swinging your arms? Is your dog's leash buckle too big? Is your leash to heavy? I see people walking with chain leashes; I don't get this at all. A harness most definitely can help with face swapping but not completely. If you swing your arms when you walk a front attach harness can still allow for leash whipping. On your next walk, walk like you usually do and see if it your form is dog face friendly.