Is there anything wrong with using your cell phone while you’re out for a stroll with Fido? Technically maybe not. But it is quickly becoming one of my pet peeves.
A couple of days ago I was out for a run when I saw a woman walking two dogs. Small dogs – maybe a Min Pin and a little terrier mix. She was holding both leashes in her left hand. The dogs were pulling into the grassy parkway. They looked as if they were trying to stretch their six-foot leashes to eight feet. The woman didn’t seem to be bothered by this at all. In her right hand she held her cell phone and appeared to be reading texts or emails. She was oblivious to what the dogs were up to.
Then just today I was driving on my way to work when a little cockapoo darted into the street in front of me. Yes, it was on a leash – but it was a retractable leash (for more dangers about those, see this earlier blog by a colleague). I put my brakes on and the owner attempted to reel in the little dog with one hand while, you guessed it, she was holding tight to her cell phone with the other.
I understand being cell-phone obsessed. My phone is always with me. I check it first thing in the morning. I check it last thing at night. In between I look at it more times than I care to admit. ut the one time I do not take my cell phone out to check messages or make calls is when I’m walking my dog.
The practical are largely about safety. If you’re focused on your phone and not your dog, what happens when your dog pulls over to get into something he shouldn’t get into? if your dog suddenly drops to roll in something nasty, you’ll have a mess on your hands. But it could be worse. What if your dog gets a hold of something dangerous – and you don’t even see it. And if, like me, you happen to have a dog that is reactive – to other dogs, people or things like bikes or skateboards – you can’t be on the lookout for those if you’re occupied by your phone.
On the emotional side, I view walking as a time to really be with and bond with my dog. The time I spend walking my dog is “our time.” When we teach leash walking, we talk about having our dogs check in with us, follow our lead, look to us for direction. It just feels good when my dog turns and checks in with me. And I like to think that it’s rewarding for him to have me acknowledge that check-in. If I’m on the phone, I’m not really being with my dog.
So when you go out for your next walk, think about leaving the cell phone at home… or at least in your pocket. Instead, focus on your dog… and really enjoy the walk.
Pounding the pavement: some tips on what to do if dog doesn’t want to walk
Get Equipped: tips on harnesses and leashes
Let’s Walk: general thoughts on the joys of walking your dog