The first day of autumn is bearing down on us like a teething puppy after your designer leather shoes, so get those late summer walks in while you can—preferably, with a leash in hand! Just imagine it: the bleary blink of lightning bugs, the nostalgic croon of a turtledove, the rhythmic panting of your canine companion as he paces contentedly at your side. Of course, for many people, walking the dog is a much more, shall we say, involved activity. If you’re spending your dwindling summer getting dragged down the street and clotheslining random passersby with a leash, you might want to read these handy tips, courtesy of the ASPCA:
1. Compile a Survival Kit: Okay, so you’re not venturing that far outside of your home. Even so, you and your pet will need water, some treats to encourage good behavior, and, the most important items of all, some plastic bags and a scooper. Pack some mosquito repellent for yourself, but don’t use it on your dog. A toxic ingredient called DEET could damage your dog’s nervous system; there are pet-friendly alternatives out there!
2. Wear Him Down: This one may seem counterintuitive, but your dog is far less likely to chase squirrels and bound at breakneck speeds ahead of you if you spend some of his energy first. Play some fetch, soak up the sun, then cap off the day with a relaxing walk.
3. Hop to It: Yes, appreciate the scenery, but don’t by any means drag your feet. Your dog will lose interest—quickly—and this is how you get to that point where you’re disentangling his leash from a mailbox. So step lively!
4. Protect the Public: Your dog is so excited to see this random jogger neither of you have ever met before, he could just knock her over and kiss her repeatedly. And probably, he will do just that, if you allow him. The ASPCA suggests teaching your dog the “sit” command beforehand, requiring him to sit before he can interact with a person. You—or the relieved jogger—can then lavish him with treats, of course.
The main thing to remember is that your dog is just being a dog. The desire to chase, to investigate everything from that discarded piece of gum to a total stranger’s tennis shoe, is all perfectly natural. Don’t get frustrated, and don’t let up on your training. If you remain consistent, you and your dog might soon be strolling side by side down the promenade, admiring the changing leaves.