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http://twodogsandapushchair.blogspot.co.uk/p/blog-page_8.html

This blog has moved, along with this page, but I’ve discovered it still comes up on searches. To read this page with the most recent additions please follow the link. I’m not a programmer, so couldn’t improve the appearance here, so went lazy and moved to blogger :-S

Apologies for the extra step!

“I’ve come to realise that there are a lot of people coming to my Home page through google-ing (or similar) for 2 dogs and a pushchair and then going away without reading anything else. That was originally one of my aims in starting this blog, I do feel I eventually mastered walking 2 dogs with a pushchair. It seems many new parents are worried about it, I was, and I’m ‘bang-out-of-order’ to not share some tips with you. You’ll need to read my welcome page, if you haven’t already, to understand the context of what I’m writing. Please, please, please drop me an email or leave a comment with any feedback on these methods. I have a couple of inventions up my sleeve in this area and one little line of feedback might just make my good idea into a stupendous one. We shall see…

Problem: 2 excitable dogs with newborn baby in pushchair. Dogs not had much exercise lately due to birth of baby; they’re excited due to new ‘thing’ that has joined their walk along with lovely smelling baby; if you’re Mum, you’ve just given birth or had ceasarian not too long ago and aren’t really sure about walking them anyway; if Dad, dogs are alright but you’ve got baby to care for too; finally, getting the hang of a pushchair with pavements, dropped or not-dropped curbs, crossing places, buses,  road users, puddles, (other people’s?!) dog poo, other pushchairs, bikes, wheelchairs, dogs etc. eeeeeeek! You get the idea.

Solution number 1: Tie dog leads to pushchair, 1 on each side or both on same side – This does work but has huge problems ‘attached’ to it. They might be obvious, what happens to the pushchair when both excited dogs lunge towards another dog, person or try to cross the road? It goes too! You have to hold on and resist really hard, and if they are barking at other dogs or you get one of those useless dog owners that want to stop and chat, or look at the baby, or let the dogs play it’s absolute HELL! You’re stuffed until the interesting thing passes and at the side of a road this is simply terrifying. One dog either side makes it hard to start off again as the pair are pulling around the pushchair opposite ways and can get the lead around the front or under the wheels or your feet. Having them both on the same side has the advantage that you can push them into the wall/hedge when you see something coming and can hold both leads in one hand, but it means when they pull they have double the strength as they are pulling together and not against each other. Also means you are putting your new baby between them and an unknown quantity of dog.  I once tested to see how quickly I could get the dogs off their leads and under control incase something happened and I had to get to the baby, say they tipped it or something, God forbid. Actually, it happened to me just a few weeks after DD was born. I had a dislocating kneecap before I got pregnant, that was no problem all the way through pregnancy until that day. I had taken the boys out for the first time, one tied either side of the pushchair. I’d made it to our local shops when my knee went, simply gave out underneath me. I fell to my knees, pulling the pushchair handle down to the floor, and the dogs took this as a great opportunity to try and pull round me to say hello to the dear old couple who spotted me and tried to help. They inadvertently made it worse because the dogs could see they were interested in us, and tried to pull around to see them, dragging the pushchair round on it’s end, preventing me from lifting it up. I had to bellow at them to stand still, so I could gather strength to lift myself and up the pushchair. I then had to very politely try to get the couple to move back so the dogs would calm down enough for me to check on the poor baby! Luckily, she was in one of those soft carrytots that strap into the pushchair, and had just slid further down into it. Had she been in a carseat clipped on top or lying in the regular pushchair base she could have been hurt. Tying the dogs on is not a realistic option, I decided the risk of them pulling the pushchair into the road or over again or BOTH was far too high. I would still say this even with a very small or quiet dog, they are animals and we don’t kow the trigger that can make them go one day. I have seen product that clips dogs onto a metal arm attached to the side of wheelchairs so disabled people can walk their dogs. I think this could still be disastrous for a pushchair, but had the (Copyrighted 2007!) idea of something similar to act as a heel-bar for the boys. Sort of a “don’t pass this point” sign for them. Watch this space.

Solution number 2: Hold the leads yourself. This works for some people, especially with smaller/quieter dogs. It doesn’t work for me. My boys see the pushchair as a dog to compete against, even though they have both been taught beautiful heelwork. The want to be beside it looking in or in front of it. Narrow pavements and lots of other dogs and users make it very hard to pull them back to my side under control and manage the safety of the pushchair. There is also more chance of the leads being pulled from your hands, and I don’t care what is supposed to happen; a heavy pushchair from a travel system isn’t always easy to steer one handed. Particularly with shopping and as the baby gets heavier. I didn’t have the budget for the types of pushchair that can be steered easily one handed. Yes, the situation can also be helped with the use of headcollars, harnesses etc but I have evaluated the ones I tried further down.

Solution number 3: Attach the leads to you. This is the method I ended up sticking to. I tried various methods, but eventually settled on getting the two ended extra long lead that can be bought to go with the Halti headcollar. I strap this around my waist with one dog clipped to the end of it and the other attached to the other hip by using a splitter, which is a short length of lead with two clips and a metal ring in the middle designed to let you walk two dogs off one lead. I put the long lead well low on my hips for the most comfort for me, and try to balance the dogs out by clipping them so they pull off one hip each. This means they pull more against each other than me, and it’s harder for them to unbalance me. The shorter length of lead available to them means they don’t get in front of the pushchair so much and I can unclip either dog quickly. If they pull, a quick jerk back with the hip in question pulls them back in. The pushchair is in no danger and I can move the dog on the splitter around to join the other if walking a long pavement passing lots of dogs. You have to be careful they don’t suprise you and jerk you off balance but women normally find they have greater strength in their legs and hips than in theie arms. The only real negative thing is that it can be a bit of a faff to get on and off but once you’ve had a few practices the dogs walk handsfree beside you, normally with very little pulling. My hands are instantly free to see to DD and manage the pushchair.

Variations: With any of the above methods you can use various aids to make the job of keeping an excited pulling dog under control – especially advisable condsidering you haven’t long had a baby!

Harness – we tried the harnesses that came as a part of our dog seatbelt kits for when we had a saloon car. I hate it when I see people resorting to harnesses to stop a dog pulling. They don’t stop it! They just stop the dog damaging its neck and throat pulling in a collar. Your arm will still hurt and they will develop a pulling habit and shoulder muscles like Arnie S! I found it useful as a way of getting the dogs to walk further out to the sides and not under my feet but if didn’t help stop them from pulling.

Headcollar – I like these! We used a Halti headcollar on both dogs, the principle is similar to putting a headcollar on a horse – you have the head and the animal has to follow. Dog 1 hates his, it makes him stop pulling as he soon finds his nose between his knees when he tries. He will paw it off his nose if you don’t keep an eye on him, but walks better when he knows you have it with you – he is a border collie! Dog 2 walks like an angel the second it goes on, in fact once he has calmed into the walk I usually take it off again and he’s good from then on.

Leads – some suggestions with leads. My DH and I disagree with leads; we have a chain one with a padded handle that he loves, but I hate because it hurts if I have to shorten it by wrapping it around my hand. He also likes to walk Dog 1 on an extending lead when he’s on the lookout for something stinking to roll in. I disagree with extending leads for anything but convalesing dogs, females on heat or perhaps for breeds like Huskies that just don’t do recalls. If we go out together and there is a chance of swapping dog and baby roles, i have to take my long lead and halti set along too! We do have something called a hitch lead that sometimes comes in handy for tying them up when we have to leave them outside places. It’s got a buckle in the handle that can be put around a post or a loop. Don’t get leads just because they look good or are made by someone with designer status – think about the different ways you walk your dogs and what the lead will have to do for you in that time. Collars, tags AND an attached and held onto lead are compulsary in public areas. It’s no good defending your pretty pink webbing lead that snapped when your dog is about to be shot by an angry farmer! Just a thought….

Now my daughter is older, I often walk with her in a Mei Tai sling, either on my back or front. The extra loop of the long dog lead is often too much so I have reverted to the splitter lead and a short town lead with padded handle or two long webbing leads for both. This works ok but I still sometimes clip them onto my belt when we’re somewhere fairly quiet. Obviosly, having my daughter strapped onto me would make a fall much more significant, so I try to keep the leads around my wrist at these times.

Hope that helps, any questions or constructive comments or suggestions very welcome.

Sx”

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