Seeing a dog dragging his owner by a leash is no rare sight. Not only is it annoying for both the owner and the dog, but it’s also very dangerous. A recent JAMA Surgery study raises awareness of the common risks of dog walking.
The study found that in most cases, injuries happen to the hip and upper extremities, and a majority of the injured owners are women. As much as thirty percent of said injuries require hospitalization. The number of people injured during dog walking who are 65 or older has grown from 1,671 in 2004 to 4,396 in 2017, according to the study. The number of fractures caused by dog walking among Americans older than 65 is increasing rapidly.
However, the point of the study wasn’t to discourage seniors and women from walking their dogs. The researchers have tried to understand what causes the increase in injuries and how to develop potential prevention methods. The goal of the study is to raise awareness about the importance of proper obedience training and safe dog walking. Moreover, dogs aren’t the only ones who need training. The co-author of the study, Kevin Pirruccio, stresses the importance of having the strength and stamina to handle your dog. He also notes how important it is to choose a smaller breed that’s easy to train.
So, what causes dog pulling injuries among older adults? Many various factors add to the possibility of getting injured, and the best way to avoid them is to stay prepared. There are many things you can do to keep yourself and your pet safe during your walks.
Common Causes of Dog Leash Injuries and How to Avoid Them
Every walk in the park comes with potential hazards. Making precautions is necessary, regardless of the owner’s age. The following are the most common causes of dog walking injuries:
The Owner Can’t Handle His Dog
If you own a large and aggressive dog, you better be larger and more aggressive than he is. Otherwise, you may unexpectedly become a human sled and end up with scratches and even fractures. Owners need to understand that they should always be able to handle their dogs. Additionally, the number of dogs you take out on a walk is also important. If you have two medium dogs and weigh just a little more than one of them, you may find it too much when both your dogs start running when they spot the neighbor’s cat. In case you have more dogs than you can handle, ask for help during walks.
Using Too Long a Leash
If the length of the leash allows your dog to run a whole block without you moving, it’s probably too long. Many owners keep their fur babies on a long leash so they can enjoy the walk a little more. However, you aren’t in control when the leash is too long, and if anything unexpected happens, you’ll probably end up flying off at some point.
Using Retractable Leashes
If your arm hurts from dog pulling, maybe it’s time to buy a proper leash. As convenient as it may seem, you shouldn’t use a retractable leash if your dog is bigger than a poodle. Moreover, retractable leashes aren’t exactly safe for smaller breeds, either. They can break and snap back unexpectedly, leaving your dog free to run off, and even worse, hitting you in the face and causing serious injury.
Not Paying Attention
One of the most common causes of dog walking injuries is the owner not paying attention to the dog. Owners may want to take photos of the gorgeous park in the sunset, or snap some selfies if the lighting is just right. They often use the walking time to talk on their phones and catch up on whatever is going on in the human world. This method is bad for many reasons; two of the most obvious ones being:
- You aren’t spending time with your dog at all. Walks should be about your bonding with your fur baby and enjoying nature together.
- If your dog sees something exciting, you won’t know anything about it until you find yourself sliding on your back, trying to hold your super aroused running dog.
Bad Time Management
If you don’t allow yourself enough time for the walk, you won’t be prepared for anything unforeseen. As we all know, lots and lots of poop can happen during walks – in every way. Set apart enough time for a satisfying walk, and have some extra free minutes so you won’t have to rush home during unforeseen circumstances.
Not Knowing Your Limits
Owners with certain health limitations get hurt more often. For example, if you’re experiencing hip pain from dog walking, and you’ve recently had a hip implant, make sure to advise with your doctor. Whatever your condition, you should talk to your doctor about the walks and ask them about any precautions you should take.
Walking a dog is like any other exercise. You need to know what’s right for you, what feels good and what doesn’t, and what’s your comfortable pace. Make sure to prepare for the walk just like you would for an exercise: do some stretching and always wear the right clothes. Alternatively if you feel like your dog requires too much from you, you can always consider hiring a reliable dog walking agency.