Thursday, April 22, 2010

Daily Walk: 150 Pounds of Pitbull

When we first adopted Mr. B, I wasn't able to walk both pooches at the same time. I actually had to take Mr. B out on his walk, come back, then take Miss M. on a separate walk. When E was out-of-town this was actually a really tedious situation and I felt like my entire day was spent walking dogs.
It was actually a huge challenge to get the pooches to the point where I am able to walk them both at the same time. As we wrote before, walking around our neighborhood is like walking a gauntlet: there are dogs leaping out from behind fences, loose dogs running free, and always some person who Miss M. targets to pet her. When the pooches get excited, they tend to redirect their energy and stand up and fight like bears. Knowing the already negative perception of pitbulls, the last thing I want are people to think the dogs are vicious and fighting one another.
After some time, I am proud to say that as a small girl I can successfully handle 150 pounds of pitbull. Here are some things I learned:
1) We treat every walk like a training walk. They know they need to sit nicely and wait at all corners and alleys. I bring treats for positive reinforcement and randomly ask the pooches to do tricks. This makes the pooches pay attention to me, with the idea of getting a treat, rather than all the exciting things going on around them. I also change it up so they know I'm in charge and they'll pay attention.
2) We use these double-loop leashes in different colors. If something happens I can grab them close to me; the different colors distinguish which dog I'm grabbing. We also have an elaborate collar system because there have been times when the latches have come undone; the last thing I need is to deal with one dog running loose.3) The dogs aren't allowed to meet other dogs on leash. When they meet other dogs they just want to play, which can be dangerous without a proper introduction and because they could get hurt if they get tangled in the leashes. We're usually able to cross the street if other dogs are coming, or just wait on the side. This helps the pooches understand that walks are for walking and they don't get distracted and want to play.I know this sounds very rigid, but seeing that I do have a targeted breed, and knowing all the potential dangers in the city, I need to make sure the pooches are under control during the walks. Does anyone else have any good walking-control tips?


Breakfast With the Bennetts said...

What a wonderful thing you are doing to keep yo and your pooches safe! We use harnesses with Boxen and Bella because Boxen's head is as big as his neck and the collar slips right off. They wtill wear collars with tags just incase. I think that the harnesses provide a little more control as well. I have used them to pick up Bexen after he fell off the dock into the lake. I also use them to hold on to if another dog is being aggressive toward us. Bella will sit like a good girl but Boxen defends his girls. Not attractive and not easy to control.

We also have a Y leash so that any pulling from wither dog ends up pulling on each other rather than me. The handle is cushoned and strong and the connection swivels so that they can't get tangled. Anyway I'll try to post pics of our system soon. I need to get moving I have just been lazy. Thanks for your daily posts we love them!

Boxen and Bella's mama

Unknown said...

I'm glad you have found a way to walk them together. Typically Flash wears a harness as it keeps her from pulling so much. Ollie doesn't need one as he walks with a loose leash, plus he's currently scared of his harness. I've also bought a Y leash so I only have to deal with one leash instead of two. It seems to help sometimes.

Anonymous said...

Whew! My mom says that she knows what you mean about the challenges of walking two dogs instead of one. And me and Brudder Ranger aren't nearly as big as Miss M and Mr. B! My mom doesn't let us meet other dogs either cuz Brudder Ranger sometimes gets growly and then I thinks he needs back-up. Oh! And I'm REALLY good at pulling so mom gots me a Sense-ation halter and that has helped me to remember not to pull so much.

Mom talked to my teacher last night about a class called "Outdoor Adventures." They take you to lots of different places so you can practice all the stuffs you've learned out in the real world. I think that might help me lots.

Wiggles & Wags,

brooke said...

Ive been working with Darwin on sitting and "leaving" people/dogs who walk by us on our walks. With people she usually wants to be pet, and so she'll run up to the person, but some people don't like that (I dont know why.... 115lbs of dog running straight to you.. hahah) and with dogs, since she's been sick/ill/injured she's been more barky at other dogs on leash. It's taken time but she's getting better at leaving things when told... I was able to make her sit and let an old man on a bicycle pass us on our walk yesterday and she didn't even move. I was quite proud and the guy thought she was so well behaved. hehehe

Anonymous said...

I don't have to walk my fur niece and nephews cause they have a nice fenced backyard to roam in. However, I used to live in a nursing home that had a couple of resident canines. I was primary caretaker for one of them, an Akita/GSD mix and he was 77lbs of muscle. He used to pull me around the halls in my wheelchair - lots of fun, except when he went fast and I bounced off the walls!.

When I would take him out on the facility grounds for his walks, I would use a harness. This gave me better control and didn't hurt him like a collar would if he was pulling.

Anonymous said...

I think a good, reliable "sit" on a leash is invaluable. I make the boys sit at curbs and stops.

I, too, walk about 150 lbs. of pitbull all by my lonesome. It makes me feel empowered, too. The only bad thing is that Ernie gets really anxious when he has to poop while on a leash, and will all of a sudden start herky-jerkin' me around until it's time to "go." Luckily it lasts all of 7 seconds, then he's back to normal.

the booker man said...

booker and asa are 120lbs combined, so i know how you feel! asa is a pretty good walker, but booker will pull at times and has come out of his collar. he wears a gentle leader chest strap harness, which gives me so much more control. if he pulls, the chest strap around his chest (just above his front legs) constricts and lets him know he needs to slow it up a bit! :)

the booker man and asa's mama

Kari in Alaska said...

i recently made the mistake of trying to walk all three of mine. BC spent the entire time weaving in and out of the other two. I find it easiest to walk multiple dogs if they are of the same size

Rescued Pittie Family said...

We have to do the same things.
We use the gentle leaders though because it makes it very difficult for them to get out of control - it pulls their head down when they pull which makes is nearly impossible for them to lunge toward anything.
The down side is that some people think they're muzzles - which they are not - but it gives the impression that my dogs need to be muzzeled for some reason.
I think you have absolutely fantastic dogs and should be so proud to havethem out in public.
I always try to remember that dogs are like 4 legged-two-year olds and it makes it easier to have patients with them when they act like spoiled children. Because in many respects they are.

Shauna (Fido and Wino) said...

I'm going to echo @zipcode- you guys are really awesome dog owners. It is so fantastic that you take such pride in your responsibility with them.

I am so glad you guys are going to take part in the R.O.A.R. Squad! Not sure if you saw my reply, but I was kind of thinking of you guys when I was making up the "Super Wicked Peeps" list and listed "school teachers" :) It's ok if there isn't a pic of all 4 of you together, you could do 2 + 2 or 3 + 2... whatever works! :)

Coleen L. said...

I'm not a fan of choke collars. I use either Easy Walk Harnesses, or Gentle Leaders on my dogs. My lab only has 40 pounds on me, and walking him used to be a nightmare, especially if we saw another dog. He wasn't aggressive, but like your dogs, he wanted to play. With a Gentle Leader or a harness, if he pulls forward, his body simply turns to the side, so pulling doesn't get him anywhere.

Nicole said...

This does seem rigid, but I think you have a lot of great ideas. I usually try to avoid other dogs and people when I have my dog out on a walk because he always wants to jump on everything. He was also attacked once by another dog. The owner brought his dog over to meet mine, but it didn't go well. I was so mad because I had already been trying to avoid them.

houndstooth said...

I think keeping your dogs under control on leash is a good idea for a lot of reasons! I commend you for being vigilant with them.

We often have to move over on to the street when we're walking for passing runners or people with strollers, so the girls know "over" means we're shifting to the side and letting people by. We also have a spot where sniffing is allowed as a small break from the walk.

We walk in harnesses, too. If the worst happened, I'd have a much better chance of keeping them from backing out and bolting beyond where I could get to them.

Anonymous said...

My dogs are only about 70 pounds combined, but it's still tough sometimes to walk both of them at the time. It's gotten easier since they've learned to walk calmly and politely (unless we run into a new dog that they just HAVE to sniff), but when it's potty time I often find myself being pulled in two opposite directions. Those leashes are a great idea though. I may have to look into them.

parlance said...

Thanks for posting this. I enjoyed reading it and realised I should be doing a better job on walks. That's how we started off, years ago, and we've become very slack. Penny now thinks every walk should go at her pace and we should be tugged toward every tree or lamppost. I think I'll try some of your ideas.

Dexter said...

That was a very important post because the humans need to know that they can't just let their brains wander when we are out and about. Think about what is best for the doggies.

When I was a baby momma had to take three walkies every morning because Grandpa Angus was really old and couldn't go fast. I would have walked with Raja, but momma said NO WAY she would ever walk two mastiffs at once. Yoiks!


Mary said...

I often wonder how I am going to handle walking two dogs. Levi is usually good, but he's been kind of an ass lately about sniffing and is not lured by any kind of food reward. He is also good about passing other dogs, but he is definitely more interested in some and can act a little crazy. I think instituting a "no meeting other dogs" rule is a good idea when we bring home dog #2.

ME said...

Your pitties as so handsome!

dmympls said...

LOVE your blog. I have a FB page- PIttie Ambassadors with about 2500 friends who love pitties. I am going to share your blog with all of them and ask them to spread the word to educate people about how wonderful it is to have pitties in the city!!

Thank you for getting out and working to change misperceptions about our amazing breed!

all the best,

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