There are significant risks that arise as a result of allowing dogs to walk in large packs, such as supervision, the spread of diseases, injuries, fights and bullying.
Walking your dog is a healthy practice for both the pet and its handler. However, walking dogs in large packs presents significant risks that must be taken into consideration. According to the New York Council of Dog Owner Groups, a large pack can be defined as more than four dogs. Typically, not all dog walkers are well trained to handle a large pack, let alone four dogs. Therefore, there are significant risks that arise as a result of allowing dogs to walk in large packs, such as supervision, the spread of diseases, injuries, fights and bullying.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), walking dogs in large groups creates the risk of infection and disease transmission. Approximately 25% of infections among dogs are a result of them encountering larger packs. As for the dog owners group We Love Pets, a No Pack Walk Policy has been implemented to ensure that groups of more than four dogs are not simultaneously taken for a walk. The group is very strict on a single handler walking more than four dogs at the same time. This policy is seen to reduce several risks associated with large pack dogs and promotes a healthier environment for both the handlers and the pets.
A testimony from a New York resident who frequently takes his dog out for walks reportedly linked an infection that his beloved pet caught to walking among large packs of dogs. According to him, frequent contact with large packs was responsible for an eye infection that hampered the health of his dog for a couple of weeks. He states that he had grown used to interacting with other dog owners in his area and he frequently enjoyed allowing his dog to interact with the others.
However, these interactions were responsible for the transmission of an infectious disease that ended up costing the owner a lot of money in vet bills. He was never certain of the exact source of the infection, but he was certain that constant contact with large packs of dogs eventually condemned his own into illness. Hanging out with large pack dogs can seem to be fun, but dog owners need to be aware of the risks associated with spreading diseases and infections as a consequence. As a result, the dog owner was forced to change location and keep his dog away from large packs.
In the journal ‘Sterilization and Disinfection’ by Mohapatra (2017), the author argues that most infections affecting both animals and human beings is usually transmitted in large crowds. Just like the COVID-19 regulations that governments have been implementing across the world, strict no contract with other people, as well as pets, is necessary to reduce the spread of infectious diseases. Infections thrive when they are transmitted in large numbers and this is a factor that dog owners should consider when taking their dogs out for walks with other large numbers of pet owners.
Supervision is another critical danger that one should observe when walking large number of pack dogs. The disadvantage of this is that not all dog owners need to have more than four dogs at the same time, but the interaction of the pets can prove critical in how they are managed. When a dog owner takes his pet for a walk, obvious considerations need to be made when interacting with others in public. For instance, as the handler is walking the dog, he will make contact with the rest of the community and has to make sure that everything is alright.
Out in the open, the dog will interact with other pets, children, people rushing to and fro as well as curious dog lovers who might want to make contact with the dog. Supervising a single dog for some handlers can seem a bit too much, but leaving the handler to control more than four dogs creates unnecessary risks. Managing them, quelling them own and ensuring that they are on their best behavior can be a challenge, and this can easily result in different types of disruptions when they are out. Supervision works best when the dogs are not that many and it is easy to take control of a smaller number of them.
Dogs are naturally interactive animals and they are likely to mingle with other dogs they encounter when out for a walk. According to Koohsari, et al. (2020) in their article ‘Dog-walking in dense compact areas: The role of neighborhood built environment,’ dog owners must contend with probable injuries that their pets are likely to suffer as a result of interacting with other animals. This is a health concern for the dog and walking them in large groups only increases the chances of injuries. It is important for dog owners to consider solitary walks where their dogs do not have to interact with several other dogs when they are out to minimize this critical health concern.
Similarly, another concern that must be taken into consideration is fights and bullying when the dog is out for a walk. Most dog owners argue that their pets are docile and very good to deal with but, however, when they are out, they have their own sense of freedom. It is likely for the dog to engage in fights with other animals and even passers-by, creating a serious problem in case they are a pack.
Bullying is also prevalent, and it goes both ways because the pet can be the bully or it can be bullied. This is another significant risk of walking dogs in large packs and it creates aggression in the animal that can be detrimental for the owner. Dog owners need to recognize the need to walk their dogs in small numbers and avoid interactions where there are more than four dogs. There are numerous risks that affect the pet, as well as the handler, and this must be taken into consideration every time the owner wants to release his dog to the rest of the community.
Injuries and Dog Walking Accidents
According to research published by Jama Surgery in 2019, there has been an alarming increase in the number of older adults injured while walking their dog. The research suggests that there has been an exponential increase of 150% since 2006 and the main cause of this is walking dogs in packs. It is disadvantageous to get control of a large number of dogs because the likelihood of them being caught up in the moment of their surroundings is high. It is highly recommended, particularly in older adults to reduce the number of dogs they take out for a walk in one go as a critical way of preventing injuries and dog walking accidents.
The same research also points to the fact that the number of people who have experienced fractures whilst walking their dogs has increased rapidly from 1,671 to 4,396 occurrences. The nature of the injuries and dog walking accidents points to the fact that most dog walkers attempt to control large numbers of dogs at the same time. A study conducted countrywide between 2004 and 2017 reveals that women are the most affected, with 78.6% of them suffering from dog walking related injuries.
More than 28% of all dog-walking injuries are severe and require immediate medical attention. In addition to this, the most affected areas of the body are the hip (17.3%), the wrist (13.7%) and the upper arm (11.1%). These injuries are indicative of people trying to control large groups of animals but instead get injured by attempting to take control of these large numbers of animals. The study concludes by recommending dog walkers utilize a different approach in walking their dogs, avoiding large numbers of anything from four dogs at a while as attributable to a decrease in dog walking injuries and accidents.
Another serious problem that most dog walkers sometimes fail to recognize is dog bites and attacks from other dogs. This is particularly a serious problem when trying to bring a large group of animals to behave but the situation spirals out of control. Dog walkers and their owners are comfortable with their pets while in the vicinity of their homes, but it is another case when they are out in public. Instances of dog bites have gone up nearly thirty percent in the past decades and there are no signs of a decrease in these statistics.
An increasing number of people are having to ward off aggressive dogs when they are out on a walk, and this aggression, according to a study by Melrow (2021) increases twice fold among a large pack of dogs. More people have been harassed and bitten by other dogs when they are in larger packs as opposed to when they are walking in significantly smaller numbers. There are some neighborhoods in New York City that are strictly forbidding walking more than two dogs through the neighborhood. These rules are being implemented specifically to deal with the associated injuries and dog walking accidents that come as a result of dogs walking in large packs.
According to Dr. Heather B. Loesnser, senior veterinary officer of the American Animal Hospital Association, “unfortunately, just because the owner thinks that their dog plays well with others does not mean they always do.” This statement is quite telling coming from a professional in the industry because under-socialized dogs cause the most trouble when they encounter packs. Even for the owner who walks a single dog, encountering larger packs ends up being a disadvantage because they might spend the entire duration of the walk trying to calm their dog down. This increases the chances of injuries and other types of accidents not just for the general public, but other dogs that might not even be involved in the scuffle.
Nick Hof, a certified professional dog trainer and the chair of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers argues that under-socialized dogs create the most problems when in packs. For instance, a puppy that is under twelve months is likely to start a fracas in a park setting if it is not adequately brought under control. Exposing young dogs to the immediate public from a young age might seem to be a good idea, but an attempt for the puppy to interact with other older dogs in the community is room for chaos.
When such groups of animals encounter each other in public, it opens up room for scuffles as well as injuries that will affect both the owner and other dogs. Therefore, one way of preventing these problems is ensuring that dogs do not walk in large packs as this assists significantly in bringing them under control. A survey conducted by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) in 2018 found that 91% of Americans believe dog parks are beneficial to the community. While this fact is undoubtedly true, there are certain rules that need to be observed to guarantee the safety of all park users.
Dog walking in itself is beneficial both for the dog walker and the pet. However, in order to reduce instances of injuries that have been increasing at an alarming rate, dog walkers need to recognize the importance of walking their pets individually. In order to prevent any acts of aggression, it is necessary to allow the pet to experience their surroundings from an individualistic point of view. The dog can enjoy their surroundings and feel less pressure from other dogs when they are walking by themselves. This way, they can develop behavior specific to their surroundings and will allow them to fit in with minimal fuss.
The pressure that a majority of dog walkers experience when trying to bring their pets under control only causes injuries. In addition to this, innocent by-standers and pedestrians might incur the wrath of an aggressive dog because of the pack mentality that they possess when in large numbers. And if a dog walker should completely lose control over a pack of four or more dogs, they can wreck havoc within a small community. It is vital to walk fewer dogs than four to reduce injuries and dog walking accidents.