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Karen B. London
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A Dog in Front and a Dog Behind
Different speeds affect multiple-dog walks

When our friends Ian and Emily told us that walking their two dogs together would mean that we would have one arm in front and one behind and demonstrated the posture, I did not take it literally, but I should have. I thought they were just cleverly saying that Super Bee would want to go faster and that Zoroaster would be a bit slower. I didn’t realize that we would, in fact, have our arms open wide to accommodate the dogs’ different speeds on walks.

Both of these dogs are quite biddable, so it was not difficult to ask Super Bee to wait up sometimes or to encourage Zoroaster to pick it up at other times. Neither puts much pressure on the leash, so it was easy enough to hold the leashes in one hand so our arms were not spread out. Overall, the difference in their walking tendencies was more amusing to us than it was problematic. Still, it made me consider the options for walking dogs together when they tend to go at different speeds because of age, breed, size or personality.

An obvious option that is not always available is to have one person walk each dog. If my husband and I walked the dogs together, whoever had Super Bee could go out ahead and then loop back for the person with Zoroaster. Being separated for a short time made them both more likely to adjust their speed and stay together for a brief period afterwards.

Similarly, it’s always possible to walk each dog separately. While I am hugely in favor of quality one-on-one time with each dog, walking one dog at a time has its drawbacks. With active athletic dogs like Super Bee and Zoroaster, we were already working pretty hard to give them enough exercise, so walking them separately would have meant cutting the length of each of their walks.

Sometimes the time of day can make a difference. Super Bee is more affected by the heat than Zoroaster, so if we walked them when it was hotter, she slowed down a bit and the difference in the dogs’ speeds diminished. That helped keep the dogs at the same speed, but the drawback is that because of the heat, the walk was shorter for both dogs.

If you have dogs who walk at different paces, how do you handle it?

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Karen B. London, PhD, is a Bark columnist and a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist specializing in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavior problems in the domestic dog.

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Submitted by Kelley Davis | August 30 2014 |

I walk my three dogs at the same time. One is tall and 80 pounds, one is 45 pounds and one is 18 pounds with short legs. Most of the time, they will walk at the same speed. The little one has to trot while the other two walk, but he can keep up. Usually, they space themselves out - one in front, one at my side and one behind. I run into trouble when one of them stops to sniff something and the other two keep going. I adopted the little dog about 1 1/2 years ago, and I've become quite adept at circling my arms around to accommodate all of them over the past few years. It is a great upper arm workout! I've noticed that my upper arms have become more firm and toned since I started walking the 3 of them. I also use an Easy Walk harness on the two bigger dogs, which helps a lot. Plus, they go for a walk almost every day, so they know the routine and don't pull on the leash most of time. But it is much harder than walking one dog.

Submitted by Carol Muscolino | August 31 2014 |

Laughed out loud as I was getting ready to walk my dogs. If you have a beagle walking with one arm extended is a given. She has short legs, true, but what she really wants is to go where she wants to go. The other dog is "straight ahead" driven. When possible, we ditch the beagle and take her later. Then we let her pick the route.

Submitted by Frances | August 31 2014 |

On a typical walk Sophy is way out in front, pausing every now and then with a look that says "You are all so SLOW!", Poppy is close beside me, and my neighbour's Jilly is way behind, half hoping we may turn round soon and save her some yards of walking... Fortunately I am surrounded by safe off leash walks, so they can largely choose their own pace, but I often keep Jill on a lead to speed her up, and call a reminder to Sophy that not all of us are long distance running Papillons!

Submitted by Kristina Nethercott | September 3 2014 |

I use a belt around my hips and attach leashes to carabiners. They can do whatever they like and my arms are free :)

Submitted by Sarah | September 3 2014 |

This is a common problem in our household. Solo walks have become a lesson in yoga stretches and poses.

The only real genuine solution (vs. treat incentives and other temporary motivators) we've found is one/one walks. Each person takes a dog. But it's always nice to have a walking buddy… for me and the dogs. We get out as a family more, and the walks are longer for all of us! Win/Win

Submitted by Kristen | September 3 2014 |

I walk a lab mix and a chihuahua mix and I am literally stretched to a T most of the time. The one in front usually waits patiently while the one behind does her thing. When I try to keep them together, it is mostly about keeping the slower one more interested and excited in keeping up.

Submitted by bdog | September 4 2014 |

Story of my life, I have a 16 yr old beagle and a 3 yr old beagle. It's a constant struggle, but neither wants to be walked alone. Sometimes I wait until my eldest is fast asleep and sneak my younger one out.

Submitted by jes | September 4 2014 |

offleash as much as possible...

Submitted by tcarter | September 6 2014 |

I live in the country and one runs loose while my runner dog is on a training lead. My loose one stays close by..she is female, fat and deaf. My runner is a border collie who would be gone fof days.
But walking them on lead in town is hellish..my goal is to get a double lead and teach them to walk beside me and not go in two different directions by cuing them that it is an excercise walk not a sniffing walk.

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