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Classic Style: Walkin' Your Dog. . .

It does not matter how sweet you think your dog is, or whether the dog is a large, or small breed.  If you are going to take your dog out into public on a leash, then make damn sure you leash train the dog (and yourself).

I like dogs.  Well trained and pleasantly behaved dogs, that is, of many different breeds.  Terriers, Retrievers, and Poodles (toys and standards) are my personal  favorites.  Some of you might recall recent mention, here at Classic Style for the Average Guy, of my father, who trained Labrador Retrievers for hunting use in the field and the show ring although he himself was neither a hunter, nor a a dog show enthusiast.  

While I have not used the skills myself for many year now, I too learned basic dog training as a child.  So, the sheer number of people with untrained dogs walking around loose out there gives me cause for concern especially since, almost invariably, the offending owners and dogs are large and potentially dangerous.

There is a certain kind of person, usually but not always a youngish guy, who is a fan of these sorts of dogs.  Naturally, these also seem to be the kinds of people who take their dogs out into public without taking any steps whatsoever to train the dog first.  While I could easily launch into a lengthy monologue about the reasons behind this phenomenon, I'll spare everyone and say just this.  Whatever kind of dog you own, you need to leash train your dog and CONTROL said dog whenever the two of you are out in public.

At the very least:

1) Use a short leather, or nylon leash and keep the dog on your left side.  Don't let the dog roam around way out ahead of you, or lead YOU, on one those stupid telescopic dog leashes.  Take control of your animal.  

2) Hold the end of the leash firmly in your right hand and hold the leash just below its middle firmly in your left.  Once more, control your animal.

3) The dog must be taught to "Heel!" when the two of you walk together.  That means, basically, not to pull against the leash, leaving a tiny bit of slack in the leash as the two of you move ahead.

4) When you come to a stop at an intersection, traffic light, crosswalk, or when you meet someone, the dog should be taught to "Sit!" and "Stay!"  "Get down!" and "No!" are also highly useful commands.  Pointing your index finger directly at the ground is helpful.

5) When you are ready to proceed, the command that the dog needs to be taught is "Come!"  As stated previously, keep your dog very close in to your left side and remind it frequently to "Heel!" in a firm voice as the two of you continue on your way.

Training your dog well is more complicated and time consuming than just these five points, but they nevertheless provide a solid start.  Just like with small children, though, keep it simple and be consistent, working up from initially very short training sessions (with plenty of small food rewards) to longer ones.  There are many books out there on the subject of dog training as well as websites, so all you need to do is look around if you are, or are about to become, a dog owner, and you realize the very real need to train and socialize your animal. 

The point is, you need to keep your dog away from and off people visiting in your home, in your back yard, on the sidewalk, and at the local park.  Even the dogpark.  The commonly heard excuses from inattentive dog owners like "Sorry!" (usually followed with nervous laughter) and/or "He won't hurt you.  He's really friendly," are just that.  Extremely weak excuses.  Not everyone is a dog person, and not everyone wants a strange dog to jump up on them and breathe hot, stinky dog breath in their faces.  Got it, boys?

As I mention above in the caption below today's illustration, it does not matter what YOU think your dog is like, or how cute YOU might think he, or she is.  Not everyone shares your enthusiasm for Pitbull-Boxer-Great Dane mixes.  Control your dog -- even if it is a small breed --  and at least give other people the option of interacting with the animal. . .  or not.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Oh, and make ding-dang sure that you pick up after Fido when the two of you are on your walk if you take my meaning.  And don't, whatever you do, let him doody in someone's front yard.  That is neither nice, nor stylish, gents!


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