A head collar needs to be introduced with caution and patience
This head collar is also sometimes called a gentle leader

When used cautiously, head collars are a very good option for pet parents with a dog that is reactive on leash. 

These head collars, which are also known as gentle leaders, require patience and kindness. A dog needs reassurance and encouragement otherwise it will become fearful and rebellious. And that, of course, would defeat the whole purpose of using this tool in the first place.

How To Use Head Collars With Caution

It’s only fair for me to start off by saying that I have not yet met a dog that likes being fitted with one. My experience is that at the outset, dogs will usually show some degree of resistance. However, when the handler shows compassion, that uncertainty is soon short-lived because of the overwhelming desire to go walkies!

The loop fits over the snout and two straps snap together on the back of the neck. It needs to fit snugly but never too tight. A dog still needs to be able to open its mouth sufficiently to allow for panting. The ring for connecting the leash is located on the short strap that hangs down the center of the dog’s chest.

Watch Out For Rolling Antics 

A lot of dogs act out on the walk and will roll around on the ground trying to get the head collar off. As an extra precaution, I will also use a regular collar and leash just in case that happens. 

One of my dog clients is a GoldenDoodle, very sweet, very playful and very comical. He loves to roll on grass and he can run like the wind. So, here is an instance where I prefer to pre-empt an unfortunate situation and use both restraints simultaneously.

Gentle Correction With The Gentle Leader 

A dog’s nose is a very sensitive area so any correction must be done cautiously. Pulling hard on the leash and jerking must be avoided at all costs to prevent injury.

To Sum Up

As I said at the outset, be careful when using head collars (gentle leaders). They only work well if both the walker and the one at the end of the leash are in harmony. Give it a try. It’s well worth the effort! 

Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!  

Would you like to read about retractable and unretractable leashes? If so, click here


By being on the defensive, you can avoid confrontations when you walk your dog
To avoid confrontations when walking your dog, be on the defensive

Be On The Defensive…Not The Offensive

What makes a good driver and a good dog walker? Someone who is cautious. It requires taking appropriate action to avoid confrontation walking dogs just like being defensive when driving a vehicle. 

Without exception, it is always better to stay clear of what could turn out be a conflictive situation that ends in an accident. The priority is safety. And, most importantly, human intervention will keep people and their companion animals out of danger.

To Share Or Not To Share…The Sidewalk

Naturally, you have the right to walk your dog on the sidewalk. Nevertheless, it is your responsibility as a pet parent to teach him to walk properly on the leash. This means eliminating the urge to pull, lunge, bark, growl and become ferocious. 

Likewise, it is the responsibility of other pet parents, who you are certain to come across on your outdoor trips, to do exactly the same. But, this is not a perfect world. 

Dodging Conflict Dog Walking

As most of you are aware, some dogs are hard to train and others have never been trained. Then there are those that have acquired certain negative behaviors as a result of previously being abandoned, injured, or abused.

If your dog knows another dog really well and they are both friendly towards each other, then there is no reason why they shouldn’t interact and rub noses. However, when this is not the case, and this is most of the time, the best advice I can give is…be on the defensive.

What I Do 

When I see a dog walking towards me, I cross over to the other side. Doing this will avoid coming face to face in case a direct confrontation occurs.

Sometimes, the other person walking the dog will act first and cross before you attempt to do so. Occasionally, they will actually turn around and back track to find another route to walk along. Now that is one smart, responsible human!

To Sum Up

Do your best to avoid confrontation when you walk your dog. Always err on the side of caution. It just makes sense to do everything you can to prevent a potential incident. And, as I said at the outset, defensive walking is like defensive driving.

Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!  

More must-read articles in this category:

How to take your cat for a walk

Dog walking safely means being focused

Behavior awareness tips for dog parks

Daily physical activity for good health


If you don’t know why retractable leashes aren’t safe, you might want to read this article
If you don’t know why retractable leashes aren’t safe, you might want to read this article

When I mention to a new client that I do not use them, they wonder why retractable leashes aren’t safe. So I tell the pet parent that they are misused, they can break and, in fact, they may cause serious injury. 

The bottom line is that, 99% of the time, handlers are clueless of the risks involved when they use these “flexi” leashes to go walkies. So, it’s hardly surprising that one of my major pet peeves is that too few pet guardians use leashes that are unretractable.

To learn more about this topic, please take a look at the examples and explanations below.


Any leash that has a reach of around 30 feet is not meant for regular dog walking. And it is especially inappropriate if used where there is traffic, no matter how light. The person involved just doesn’t have proper control and is allowing a potential safety incident to occur. So, in situations like these, yes, retractable leashes are harmful.

Nevertheless, on a positive note, this kind of leash can be a very good tool for obedience training in a wide open space. In fact, that was the only purpose for creating them in the first place. Most people don’t know that.


Anyone who has been using a retractable leash for a number of years will tell you that the spring mechanism can malfunction. When that happens, it will either not extend or not retract. Now think about this for a moment. If the thin cord or the flat nylon strip snaps, you have a dog on the loose. And, not only that, the leash can boomerang back to hit the person holding the plastic handle.


Another reason why retractable leashes aren’t safe is because of injury. If any part of the leash gets wrapped around the human’s leg, it can cause burns or cuts. Also, the dog on this particular leash, as well as other dogs, may be at risk of injury, too, if they become entangled.

Another harmful scenario is when the human suddenly prevents the leash from extending. Or when it is allowed to spool out totally and the moving canine suddenly stops in its tracks. This frequently results in neck wounds and throat injuries as well as damage to the spine.

The 99 Percent

In my experience, 99% of “flexi” leash dog walkers are clueless risk takers. When not used for their original intention, retractable leashes have harmful consequences. Here are some examples which, unfortunately, I have seen with my own eyes.

  • A dog that has not be trained to walk correctly will pull because it knows it will always be given more leeway.
  • The plastic case is bulky, you bend over to pick up his business, you fumble, and you drop the leash. It’s dragged along the ground and makes a noise which scares the dog as it runs faster to get away from the noise, totally traumatized.
  • You’re distracted and forget to click the spool tight. Your dog sees a squirrel and takes off…
  • Still distracted, you’re still talking on your phone. However, this time your dog is walking 12 feet behind you, and you have no idea what he’s up to.
  • Your dog is 6 feet ahead of you, turns the corner and comes face-to-face with an unfriendly canine. An altercation begins, and you’re unable to control your dog.

To Sum Up

By all means, go ahead and use a sturdy, well-constructed retractable leash when you are training your pup. Otherwise, stay away from them altogether and stick to the safer option, an unretractable leash. And, do make sure that it is appropriate for the breed and size of your four-legged companion.

Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!  

Would you like to read about head collars, also known as gentle leaders? If so, click here


This Is About You, Not Fido

This distracted dog walker should change her habits and focus more on pet safety
This distracted dog walker should change her habits and focus more on
pet safety

Pet safety is a huge priority of mine so if I see distracted dog walkers act a certain way, it really concerns me. And the bottom line is very simple.When you are outdoors exercising a canine, being in control helps to keep your four-legged companion safe. 

Now, although this article focuses on walking your dog, the recommendations also apply when you’re out jogging together.

Furthermore, I’d like to point this out, too, and it involves some careful self-reflection. You may come to realize that you are not looking or listening properly. That you are not being attentive and fully aware of your surroundings. So, if that’s the case, then it’s probably time to make some changes.

Definition Of A Distracted Dog Walker

The topic here is dog walkers being distracted and how they can stay focused. For that purpose, I have made a short but really important list of the things that take your mind off what should be your priority.

  • cell phones 
  • ear buds 
  • the mail 
  • neighbors and passers-by

Maybe you’re wondering why I’m mentioning these seemingly unimportant things. What do they have to do with safety? Well, here’s what can happen.

Reality Number One

First Fact: You use your phone to talk, text or read when you walk your dog.

Question: If you absolutely have to do any of the above, how should you do so safely?

Answer: Step away from the road and hold your dog on a very short leash. Look around you to be aware of your surroundings, and remain stationary.

This next one isn’t exactly a dog walking situation. Nevertheless, I wanted to mention it here because I have witnessed many single family home owners doing this.

Reality Number Two

Second Fact: You let your dog out in your front yard off-leash to potty while you walk to the curbside to pick up your mail. And, as you walk back towards the house, you’re looking at leaflets and envelopes.

Question: You do this all the time. Why shouldn’t you?

Answer: In my world, this is taking an unnecessary risk. You really do need to stay focused. Go out front with your dog on a leash, let him potty, then take him back inside. Now go and pick up your mail.

Reality Number Three  

Third Fact: You use ear buds to listen to music. 

Question: Is it okay to have the volume turned down low?

Answer: No, it is not okay. This is yet another distracting habit dog walkers have. Leave the ear buds at home. You need eyes to see AND ears to hear what’s going on around you. Beware of cyclists, traffic, verbal warnings, and so on.

Reality Number Four    

Fourth Fact: You stop during your walk to talk to neighbors and passers-by.

Question: How can this possibly be a potential problem?

Answer: You’re right. It’s quite unlikely. However, make sure your dog is on a short (unretractable) leash and that you stay well clear of traffic. Also, step out of the way of other walkers, joggers and cyclists.

To Sum Up

Dog walking warrants staying fully focused.  That means focused on your dog. Not on yourself. So, please think about the examples mentioned here. Make the necessary changes so that your pleasure outings are a little safer. Safer for your faithful companion. And safer for you.

Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!  

More must-read articles in this category:

How to take your cat for a walk

Behavior awareness tips for dog parks

Daily physical activity for good health

Defensive dog walking is like defensive driving