At nearly a hundred pounds, Elvis would be a handful for any new dog owner. And Cari Weisberger says he has more than enough strength to pull her to the ground.
"I didn't have control of him and just the sheer weight would just lunge me forward," Weisberger remembers.
She's not alone. One study from the Centers for Disease Control estimates that more than 86,000 pet-owners suffer fall injuries, every year, with dogs blamed for most of them.
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"Oh, I've seen a ton of injuries, we've seen other animals hurt," says veteran San Francisco dog trainer Dan Perata.
Perata has some tips to help new pet owners avoid trouble, even those with large dogs, or dogs that might be on the rambunctious side.
First, he recommends a head-collar for training. "It's very similar to the halter on a horse, the nose being what drives the animal," Perata points out.
He also says holding the leash with just enough slack that the dog won't pull against it.
Body position is also key. One of the most common injury scenarios happens when one dog lunges for another during a walk.
Perata says walking by your dog's side, rather than behind, gives owners the leverage to turn their dog's face and line of site, away from the other animal.
Tips from other dog trainers: avoid wrapping the leash tightly around your hand or fingers, also don't grab your dog by the collar, which can actually result in broken fingers.
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Perata says the key to training is making small adjustments as you walk.
"It's very important that we control the dog because we can't control the environment. So focusing on the dog is probably the best tip out the gate," says Perata.
And Weisberger says it's already helping her build a calmer and safer relationship with her burly friend, Elvis.
Click here for more information on the Dan Perata Center.
Written by Timothy Didion
Pet owners being trained to avoid dog walking injuries