Fess Up: Do You Sometimes Hate Walking Your Dog?

Walking your dogs is supposed to be fun and stress free. But for me, that's not always the case.
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When my husband and I adopted our first dog, I had all these wonderful ideas about how great it was going to be. We were going to take him hiking and camping. We were going to stroll along city streets, go to the dog park, and attend festivals with him. But mostly what I looked forward to were long, leisurely walks around our neighborhood. In my mind’s eye, we stopped to talk to our neighbors who complimented us on our well-behaved pooch while their kids petted and kissed him. That’s before I knew about certain training and behavior issues, and different dogs’ walking styles.

The vision I describe above is pretty much what happened. Our dog Ranger — our eldest, our firstborn — was as perfect a canine companion we could have wished for. While he has never been crazy about the throngs of people he seems to attract to his adorable self, he fit nicely into my little “stroll through the neighborhood” scenario.

Then we adopted Mayzie. Mayzie, who had never walked on a leash. Mayzie, who was under-socialized and had no idea how to deal with an approaching dog. Mayzie, who loved people a little too much and would jump up for attention. Mayzie, who had about a gazillion times more energy to burn off than Ranger.

With Mayzie, all our leisurely walking days came to an abrupt end.

Over the past four years or so, Mayzie has come a long way in the walking department. With lots of patience and oodles of positive reinforcement training, she is hardly the wild thang she was when she first came to live with us. And most of the time our walks are enjoyable enough. But, as much as I hate to admit it, I simply don’t find it as enjoyable walking two dogs as I did when I was just walking one. In fact, there are days when I sort of hate it.

First, Ranger and Mayzie have distinctively different walking styles. Mayzie is an “always looking ahead” kind of gal. She trots along at a fast clip and can’t wait to see what exciting adventures might lie around the next corner. Ranger is a senior and his attitude is “take time to stop and smell (and pee on) the roses.” Rarely does he get into a hurry. I constantly have to put on the brakes so Ranger can inhale the delicious Bouquet de Urine of the last dog who left his mark. At the same time, Mayzie is stretching out her neck in the other direction to sniff the neighbor’s trash can. Caught between them, I have a glimpse of what it must’ve been like to be drawn and quartered in the Middle Ages.

And then there are the leashes. Recently, I wrote about why I don’t like to use a retractable leash. While I feel my points were valid, I know some of it can be attributed to user error. I honestly have a hard enough time handling two dogs on traditional nylon leashes. The dogs are usually pretty good about walking on either side of me, which is easier for me to handle. But I constantly find myself changing hands when they decide to change sides because, you know, the side of the street they’re not on is always the best side. Occasionally they somehow even manage to hogtie me while I’m picking up poop.

Oh, yeah, the poop bags! It’s so much fun juggling those poop bags, and a treat bag, and occasionally my keys if I’ve recklessly left the house in a pocketless ensemble. There are days I feel like a circus performer, and not a very good one at that. Cirque du Soleil is definitely not going to be ringing me up any time soon.

But the worst part — the part I hate the most — is other dogs. As I mentioned above, Mayzie’s lack of early socialization means that she’s reactive when other dogs approach us. Or follow us. Or bark at us from behind a fence. Until about a year ago, whenever she’d see or hear another dog, she’d lunge to the end of her leash and do this “bounce, bounce, bounce, bark, bark, bark” thing. Even though I knew why she was doing it, it was embarrassing and made me feel like a terrible dog mom.

After a lot of hard work and patience and treats, she’s finally able to (sort of) calmly pass another dog (on the other side of the street) but I can see in her eyes how hard it is for her. And it’s difficult for me, too. I’m constantly on the lookout for other dogs. I’d rather avoid them altogether if possible, which means sometimes drastically altering our route. If I can’t avoid them, I have to quickly pull out the treats and start shoveling them her direction. Ranger, of course, doesn’t want to be left out so he usually manages to get under my feet in an effort to make sure he gets some treats, too. I’m sure it’s quite a spectacle and not fun for me at all.

Now this doesn’t happen every time. We have many, many walks that are perfectly pleasant. And I get that none of the frustrations I experience are my dogs’ fault. It all comes down to my own personal failings as a trainer and handler. I know that with more effort on my part, I could probably have them heeling beautifully at my side, only sniffing when and where I want them to. I could teach them to walk only on a certain side of the street or I could take each of the dogs separately so they could go at their own pace.

But the thing is, Ranger loses his mind if Mayzie and I leave the house without him. And Mayzie, our formerly fearful dog, feels more confident and happy when Ranger’s along. Plus, well, the way I see it…the walk is theirs. It’s usually the one time of day they really get to get out of the house, explore the neighborhood, get caught up on pee-mail. When it’s time to get leashed up, the joy on their faces is absolute and when we return home, they are content, tired and happy. So no matter how frustrated I may have been along the way, seeing them so happy makes me happy.

Well, at least until it’s time for another walk.

Your turn: Do you enjoy walking your dogs? Tell us why or why not in the comments.

About the Author: Amber Carlton is owned by two cats and two dogs (all rescues), and is affectionately (?) known as the crazy pet lady amongst her friends and family. She and her husband (the crazy pet man) live in colorful Colorado where they enjoy hiking, biking and camping. Amber owns Comma Hound Copywriting and also acts as typist and assistant for Mayzie’s Dog Blog. She encourages other crazy pet people to connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

9 thoughts on “Fess Up: Do You Sometimes Hate Walking Your Dog?”

  1. Thank you for this. Sounds like the kinds of walks our two dogs go on! Especially where one is going fast and the other one is thoughtfully smelling everything. And the juggling of leashes and bags… forget taking out the phone in case there’s something to take a picture of.

  2. I totally can relate to what you said! I adore my dog he’s a beautiful malamute mix that we rescued perfect in every way EXCEPT the walking which feels more like a drag and pull for me. We live in a very hilly subdivision and I’m not in the best shape due to painful arthritis in both knees so i find myself literally dreading our daily excursions which more than not leaves me exhausted and annoyed afterwards. Luckily my husband has taken over the bulk of this as I wound up twisting my knee when my sweetie did a quick switchback on me to check out a deer and I was totally caught off guard and wound up hurting myself. It was almost a relief to read your post as I seriously thought I was the only person who disliked walking my dog! Love him destest the walks but I keep doing it because I love him. I’ve just shortened it to once a day and my husband walks him the second time. Anyhow I hope things get better for you and know you have someone who can totally relate to how you feel!

  3. Thank you so much for writing this!! This is exactly how I feel! I recently hired a trainer to help me who shamed me and told me my dog didn’t listen or behave on walks because my energy was too anxious. I had just lost my dad a few months earlier and Couldn’t help my “bad energy” that was according to the trainer, making my dog misbehave. I already felt like a terrible dog mom and she just made me feel even more guilty. This article makes me feel less ashamed for our waking struggles. I love my dog so much, but I know what it’s like to feel like a spectacle on a walk. We are making some progress but it’s still hard. Thanks did Understanding!

  4. My son brought home a dog and then moved out without the dog. I tried to rehome him, he returned the same weekend. I am not a dog person. I hate this dog. Hate. I do all the training techniques, high value treats, one year later, still a jerk. Some days I’m super patient some days I’m not. I take care of my mom too so I dont always have huge blocks of time to walk him.

    I would return him to the ACC but he’s a fourth return so they’ll put him down. Funny thing is I’d be fine with that if they didnt keep him in a cage for two weeks first. I dont fear my own death so I’m not afraid for his. He has a miserable life of fear. But I’m not willing to put him through that stress to get to the other side.

    I would have been okay with my son bringing a dog home if he had included me in the process. I never would have picked a dog with problems. The ACC took advantage of a young person. I would have picked a dog who likes walks, who likes people and who has no fears. This guy clearly wasnt around people, dogs or anything else for that matter for the first year of his life. I will just continue to hate this dog while I allow him to coexist in my home. And I’ll dutifully walk him even though I hate it. It’s not his fault humans are selfish and get dogs they shouldn’t have.

    1. IMHO your son is the jerk for dumping him on you, it isn’t the dogs fault but given the amount of stress you are clearly under, it is only natural that you would be frustrated and angry with the dog.

      I would really work on rehoming, many of the shelters here in California have an option on their websites to post pictures of animals that people want to find homes for. Petfinders.com is another option and they are hooked into all the rescues all over the country. Possibly contacting a few of those locally,
      I bet you could surrender your dog to one of them.

  5. Pingback: Fess Up: Do You Sometimes Hate Walking Your Dog? – dogcaz.com

  6. Thank you for this… it made me laugh because I just came back from walking my dogs which I honestly hate LOL I can’t add anything that you have not covered so I will just be happy knowing I am not the only one.

  7. Thank you for this… it made me laugh because I just came back from walking midges which I honestly hate LOL I can’t add anything that you have not covered so I will just be happy knowing I am not the only one.

  8. Just came in from a walk and started googling “walking my dog makes me hate my dog, and he probably hates me too.” We just came in from a walk. Thing is, I love my boy, and love to see him happy and curious. But walking him stresses me (and probably him, by the end) and by the end I resent him so much. It’s terrible to say. He’s had oodles of training, both treat, correction, and alpha. He KNOWS what to do. But he still persists in walking in front of me JUST beyond the tightening of his leash. He doesn’t literally DRAG me through walks, as he did from 7 months to one year, after a single week with a prong collar he taught himself not to pull. I know it’s me. I just want him to bloody STOP going forward to the end of his slack and the JUST a few dozen pounds more pull farther. When he is at my side, sniffing out to the side, or stopping to sniff behind me, we’re good. He knows there’s no correction and he can enjoy himself. I’ll wait for him. But he refuses to learn not to sniff/surge/lunge forward at his own pace at the end of whatever short length of lead is hanging. Every walk, even 2 times around the block, is ME getting increasingly more frustrated and, on longer walks, furious, that he won’t just heel. And this is after a long play at the park, when he’s not even energetic. On short walks I have to stop with a tight leash and wait for him to back off, or spin and change directions, at least 50 times, sometimes more, until he backs up and slackens the leash. But all he’s “learned” apparently is that a walk is surge, tight, mama makes me back up, then go again. He doesn’t LEARN not to pull on the leash. He’ll do anything for a treat, but I refuse to spend my life and his lifetime constantly shoveling expensive food in his mouth, at his pleasure, just so he’ll deign to behave. I just left a career where the customers NEED my service, but i which I spent the majority of the last 17 years having to kiss the ass of customers because apparently a necessary service isn’t enough for some people… Left that career because of it. I don’t have children because I know I have limited patience for coddling others or dealing with ignorance and bad behavior. And now I realize this animal. This family member. Who I LOVE. Makes me miserable (and I probably stress him out and confuse him) just doing the one thing dogs do daily with their family. Going for a walk. He just works my last nerve, but I want him to walk and be happy. I want to take walks with him. My last dog and I hiked often in the mountains of new mexico and did great! He had good recall and stuck with me. This dog does whatever the hell he wants and has terrible recall unless I’m doing something he wants, usually involving food. Now I’m stuck in Iowa where he’s required always to be on lead and it’s miserable unless I’m blowing $$$ on gas to take him to the dog park. So frustrating. It’s frustrating how one can both love and hate a family member ????

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