This article will appear in the San Clemente, Talega Times, April 2015
When I am walking or driving and there is a child being dragged down the street by a dog, I am dismayed. What I see is a dog out of control and a child in a venerable position.
It makes me wonder what preparations were made for that child to safely walk his dog. Obviously, parents allow or even encourage their child to walk the family dog. What type of training has been given to that child and to the dog? Is the route safe? If coyotes or snakes were to cross their path, are there safety precautions? If a dog was to charge at them, what are they suppose to do? Are other dogs allowed to interact with the family dog?
It is wonderful that all family members participate in the life of their dog. But, exercise and training are key components in having a happy healthy dog. What are the necessary preparations for your child to take responsibility in walking the family dog? Walking with a loose leash is just one prerequisite and a very important one. The dog should have no leash reactivity. The child should carry a deterrent to fend off any unwanted critters or dogs, and needs to have practiced using it correctly. In case of emergency, I recommend and carry both a small marine air horn as well as “Spray Shield”. A phone with both the parents and police numbers should be close at hand. A defined route is a must. Walking the route as a whole family several times until you feel comfortable is a responsible move.
I hope these ideas have given you something to think about that will keep your whole family safe whether it is your child or someone else’s child you encounter walking their dog.