Ask the Hairy Dogfathers: Tugging on Walks and Heartstrings
A shoulder injury caused by a pack of pulling dogs has one reader feeling guilty about one-on-one walks. The Hairy Dogfathers know how to handle this situation.
Dear Hairy Dogfathers,
Last year I injured my shoulder, and the doctor believes that it’s from walking my dogs. He says that the strain of their pulling, over time, has led to my injury. First and foremost, I’m a dog lover. They are my family, and I would do anything for them! My dogs have kept me healthy, except for my shoulder. I’ve come up with a plan – I’m going to walk one dog at a time, and leave the other two at home. But guilt is killing me! I can’t bear to leave them at home alone while I go out for a walk with only one. This means that each of my dogs is only walked every three days. They get plenty of play time in the yard, but I just hate leaving them at home. Do you think my dogs mind being left out?
It’s hard not feeling guilty when your pooches are staring at you while you leave them behind. It’s important that you take care of your shoulder, but it’s also important for your dogs’ exercise needs to be met. Play time is the yard is good, but it’s no substitute for a walk. Since you say you would do anything for your dogs… have you ever considered going for more than one walk a day? You could always walk them in shifts: one in the morning, one after work, and one after dinner. Another strategy could be to ask a friend or two to join you for a stroll, and when you’re all ready to head out, hand them each a leash. This may require you to alter your routine a bit, but I’m sure your fur family will love you even more for it.
Sure you may be feeling guilty about leaving dogs behind while you go out and about with the other one, but look on the bright side! The dog who is out with you for a walk is getting some one-on-one attention, which is hard to find in a multi-dog household. Make this time count as training time for loose-leash walking. Sitting at each corner you cross, loose leash, and eye contact when you ask for it will be rewarded with lots of high-value treats and praise! With all this focused work, you’ll have a pack of dogs who are a dream to walk. Perhaps then with aid of a hands-free belt, you can begin to walk them together again. In the mean-time why not hire a dog walker a few days each week? The dogs will benefit from the extra attention and stimulation and you will feel less guilt knowing that the answers to your problem are at hand!