Walking a large dog and a small dog at the same time – tips for success.
I decided to write this Holidays4Dogs article having just recently taken on a very tiny Chihuahua puppy. By tiny, I mean almost invisible in the house, as her coat colour blends in perfectly with the carpets! She’s the size of a small rabbit and walking her with Floss the collie has most certainly posed some challenges!
It is possible to walk dogs of different sizes together, but it does really depend on several factors. Firstly, the energy level of each dog has to be taken into account along with the level of training they’ve had and their individual temperaments.
If one dog has behaviour issues such as lunging at other dogs, or a penchant for chasing squirrels, this is bound to impact at some point on the other dog. When adding a second (or more) dog to the family, it is always a good idea to walk the new dog on his own for a while, so you have the opportunity to bond with him and train him without the distraction of the existing dog(s).
If the dogs in question differ in size, this can pose further complications and again, depends very much on the level of training they have had individually as well as their energy and fitness levels.
To begin with – choose the right equipment. Walking two or more dogs together means arming yourself with the right sort of leads. Solid leads, of the appropriate weight and width are better, and far safer, than extending leads – you can read more about extending leads in one of our other Holidays4Dogs articles. The leads need to be no more than about 1.5 meters in length for general walking.
Start off on short walks on level ground where there are few distractions. Decide where you want the dogs to walk; either both on the same side or one on each side of you. The advantage of getting both dogs to walk on one side, means you can hold both leads in one hand and have one free.
Your dogs may naturally take up a certain position; either walking side by side, or one behind the other, but try to discourage them from moving into different positions to avoid lead tangles and trip hazards! Practice sitting at kerbs, stopping and turning with one dog at a time, then add both dogs together and do the same – keep sessions short to begin with and distractions to a minimum. Have plenty of treats with you that are handy to get to – perhaps store them in an accessible pocket or a waist pouch.
Floss has always walked on my left and Peg the Chi has taken to walking just behind her, so I have encouraged this walking position with lots of praise. This is ideal for a large and small dog – if the larger dog walks ahead there is little chance of the smaller dog getting stepped on – a fact that Peggy seemed to work out for herself !
Alternatively, there is nothing wrong with walking your dogs separately – if not all of the time, but sometimes. Some dogs won’t be compatible because they have issues that the other dog does not, (but could easily rub off on); one dog may be old and doddery and the other may be a coiled spring. Perhaps one dog is happy with a 20 minute stroll, taking time to sniff and the other wants a hundred mile an hour half marathon!
It is good practice to be able to walk your dogs together and with patience it is possible to have them nicely trotting along, if only for short distances. Practice the way you hold the leads, (rather like a rider holds horse reins) – this will give a good grip while at the same time you can use the leads to ‘steer’ or ‘brake’ – (rather like a western horse rider!). This can work whether you hold both leads in one hand, or have a dog on each side.
Just bear in mind the more dogs you have the more of a physical challenge you might have. Even two medium dogs can present with quite a force, so it is crucial to spend some time training your dogs to walk nicely and safely.