Miles Kington: How to walk a dog, deal with poo and other canine concerns

When your dog meets another dog, they will investigate each other's private parts. This is something dog owners seldom do
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The Independent Online

(Author's note. Did you know that no article has ever been written giving tips to dog owners how to take their dog for a walk? Well, it has now.)

1. "Taking a dog for a walk" is a misnomer. We are taken for a walk by the dog. That is why the dog is always way ahead of us, or, if on a lead, pulling us along.

2. The object of a dog walk is to meet other dog owners, just as the object of pushing a pram is to meet other baby owners, and the object of pushing a trolley round a supermarket is to get in the same queue as that stunning blonde presently walking down aisle eight.

3. (And who, if you are interested, turned out to be maddeningly slow at the check-out and barely numerate with her change.)

4. When your dog meets another dog, they will investigate each other's private parts.

5. This is something that dog owners never do, or not until they have got to know each other very well over a long period.

6. A conversational opening remark well worth trying with a strange dog owner is: "Isn't it odd that the opening gambit of a relationship between two strange dogs, i.e. the investigation of one's respective private parts, would only be reached, with humans, after many intervening stages as the culmination of a long relationship?"

7. Well, you can try it, if you like. I have often tried it and got nowhere.

8. No dog lead is ever long enough.

9. Even dog leads which extend for miles and miles are not long enough.

10. So just have a short one.

11. Dog owners DO look like their dogs.

12. So if you see a dog being walked by someone quite dissimilar, it is a dog walker with someone else's dog, or perhaps a dognapper.

13. So if I see someone walking a quite dissimilar dog, am I justified in making a citizen's arrest for dog-stealing?

14. Of course. The man or woman will protest their innocence vehemently, which is exactly what you would expect a dog thief to do!

15. We now come to the vexed question of dog poo. That is, what should we call it?

16. Oh, for heaven's sake, just call it dog poo. It looks horrible written down, but it doesn't sound quite so bad.

17. Just don't forget - left to itself, dog poo rots away organically, but if put in a plastic bag will last for ever.

17. If you, with a dog on a lead, meet someone else with a dog on a lead, the two dogs will circle each other until the two leads are intertwined, thus proving that dogs do have a sense of humour, albeit primitive.

19. Just like humans.

20. I am often asked if giving dogs banned substances such as steroids or testosterone will enhance their performance.

21. Just two points here.

22. One, these substances are not actually banned, certainly not for dogs.

23. Two, they are counter-productive. A dog which has been using performance-enhancing substances will need MORE exercise just to stay the same. Anyone who wants to enhance their dog's performance obviously needs their head examining.

24. Your dog, of course, will also need its head examining from time to time to see if it has any ticks.

25. People who are revolted by the idea of ticks should look away now.

26. There! It's all over. You can look again now.

27. You sometimes hear people say carelessly that black dogs are easier to maintain because they don't show the dirt like white dogs. Oh yeah? Have you ever tried taking a black dog for a walk in a chalk pit? Or in a place where they make dried milk? Or where lots of people have got dandruff? Or paper shredders? Well, think about it before you shoot your mouth off next time and bring quite real distress to many sensitive owners of black dogs...

Coming soon: The dos and don'ts of cat walking

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