Walking your dog is great for both you and your pet. It provides fun and exercise for your dog and allows you to get out and enjoy the great outdoors with your canine companion. It goes without saying that, as your dog’s owner, you are there helping hand.
When it comes to dog walking, being aware of your dog’s personality, strength and fitness levels will serve you well when preparing for them. As long as you have all the essentials needed and are mindful of your surroundings, you can protect your dog from any yelping situation and your dog will be able to make the most of your walk together.
For those of you who are proud owners of canine companions, you already have an in-depth understanding of the massive responsibility that having a dog is. Yes, of course, they are our cuddly partners-in-crime, our lovable protectors, and the collective man's best friend, but that doesn't mean that our pets don't have certain needs.
The potty-training, sock-destroying, constantly-under-your-feet stage of dog ownership is something that few people miss after their pups have matured, but the most important training activity that any dog can undergo is the W-A-L-K. Walking your dog can make or break your relationship with the species.
About 36.5% of American households own at least one dog, which equates to nearly 43.5 million homes.
Ensuring your dog gets enough daily exercise is one of the essential aspects of looking after them. Whether you are both off for a short walk in your neighborhood or you are taking your dog on a trip, it is important to be prepared for your walks and follow proper dog walking etiquette.
Here are some tips to make every walk a great one.
Let Your Dog Sniff Around for Mental Stimulation
Did you know dog walks are about more than just physical exercise? Your dog's walk is usually the only time they get to go out and explore each day. Give them a little extra time to sniff around.
If you don’t want to stop every 5 seconds or have your dog sniffing around in your neighbor's yard that’s fine. You decide which areas are appropriate (and safe) for them to explore.
And you’d be surprised at how exhausting a nice ‘sniffer’ walk can be for your dog compared to a brisk 15 minute one around the neighborhood with no sniff breaks.
Don’t Use a Retractable Leash For Dog Walks
When it comes to using the right leash for your dog walk I have one recommendation, avoid retractable leashes. Retractable leashes cause many unnecessary hazards compared to traditional leashes.
The length of most retractable leashes makes it difficult for you to maintain control of your dog, especially in high traffic areas. Dogs can easily run into the street, and those leashes are not easy to reel in. And those locks on retractable leashes? Well, they’re known to disengage with enough pressure.
Retractable leashes are also known for causing injuries to dogs and humans. Grabbing onto the leash itself for more support while your dog is moving can cause severe burns. And when your dog reaches the end of the leash that sudden jerk can cause you to fall over, and it can cause serious injuries to your dog.
If your dog already pulls while walking a retractable leash will only make it worse. Why would he stop? He’s being rewarded with more freedom every time he pulls. Retractable leashes are a poor choice for normal walks.
But I will admit that in certain situations (like the beach or potty breaks in the yard) they are convenient. Just make sure to stick to your normal leash when walking your dog in any area with traffic.
Keep Your Dogs Focus By Bringing Along High-Value Treats
No matter where you walk there’s going to be distractions. If your dog is hyper, every single squirrel sighting becomes a major event. In those “oh crap” situations keep your dogs attention by having some high value treats on hand.
You can make your own healthy DIY dog treats or use some fruits & veggies that you’ve already got on hand.
Familiarize yourself with unfamiliar locations
Hiking with your dog can be incredibly enjoyable for both you and your canine friend, but be sure to plan your trek in advance. This is particularly true for first-time trips to places.
Do your homework on the routes available to you and how long each one takes, as well as the types of terrain and surroundings involved. Make sure you read up on laws relating to dogs in public areas across different states, in case this impacts how much time your dog can spend loose from its leash.
Before going out for your walk, take a minute to remind yourself what type of scenario might cause your dog to become anxious or react in an undesired way. Does he like to chase after the neighbor's cat if the opportunity presents itself? Does the UPS delivery guy cause your dog to default to primal protective mode? What about cyclists? While you always want to work with your dog to eliminate these types of behaviors, you can avoid these situations by recognizing his triggers.
Carry Portable Water Bottle
Do make sure your dog has plenty of freshwater available if it’s hot outside. If you’re thirsty, so is he.
In fact, your dog should take in about 1 cup of water per 10 pounds of body weight. If you're playing outdoors with your dog, hiking, or traveling in warm weather, your dog risks dehydration and serious health risks.
Portable Water Dispenser provides an easy and convenient way to ensure that your dog has quick access to water when outdoors or on the go.
Choose a suitable dog collar and leash
Using the proper collar and leash is essential to making sure you have full control over your furry friend as you stroll through the neighborhood.
The type of leash you should use for your dog will depend on the breed of dog and the nature of your walk. For instance, a standard 4-8 feet leash with a loop and a metal attachment clip is good for everyday walks on flat terrain and few distractions. On the other hand, for longer and more hilly treks, you might want to use a stronger and more durable leather leash. Something like this can be helpful for when your dog is excited by something and wants to chase it when it shouldn’t, or for when the weather starts to turn.
The addition of a harness for dogs gives you an extra element of safety, if you choose a reflective option, this can also give your dog a sense of purpose, naturally coercing them to behave better by giving them a sense of responsibility without any extra effort.
Do stay vocal
Whether it is with your fluffy friend, other dog walkers, or that nice, old lady who lives at the corner of your street, being vocal is a phenomenal way to establish good walking etiquette.
Being able to communicate with your dog and the other pedestrians around you ensures that you and your dog have a comfortable walking experience, whether you are keeping little children well away from your shy guy, or have that cute jogger stop to give your main chick a nice, long pat.
Pick up your pooch’s poop
It goes without saying that it is your responsibility to pick up and dispose of your dog’s poop. Not only is this courteous to others, but it is also a legal requirement in most states.
Furthermore, dog poop is very dangerous to the health of humans and other animals, due to the bacteria it carries which can result in serious illnesses.
All you need to do is carry plenty of poop bags with you and simply scoop up the poop into one, before tying up the bag and putting it in a suitable waste bin.
Protect those paws
Protect those paws! With all of the snow-melting chemicals that cover the ground during the winter, your pet needs some sort of protection for those paws! Two great options are either petroleum jelly that you can rub between their toes or using booties for more full-coverage protection.
Even with these precautions, it is still important to wipe off your dog’s paws, legs, and abdomen after a walk or restroom break outside to ensure that there is no snow, ice, or winter byproduct build-up. Pay special attention to the area in-between your dog’s toes as snowballs tend to build up there!
Do regularly walk your dog
Going for regular walks every day twice a day will give you the opportunity to spend significant time with your dog, time we think they'll appreciate not being cooped up in the house. A little time off the couch could do you some good, too.
Do enjoy walks often, daily if possible. Use them as an opportunity to not only get exercise and fresh air but to build on and reinforce the kind of relationship you want to have with your dog. Walking to heel, coming when called, and gate/door manners are some basics that can sharpen your dog’s response to you.
Don’t let your dog eat plants. You never know if they are toxic or if they’ve been sprayed with pesticides. Protect and train them with puppy-training-line.
Don't approach other dogs
When strange dogs walk up on your dog, any number of things can happen. They can be merrily wagging their tails and sniffing each other's butts, performing a canine handshake of sorts, in one minute, and during the next, start snarling and snapping at each other, potentially injuring either of the dog owners, either of the dogs or any combination of the four. In such a case recommendation for you is to walk to the other side of the street or change directions entirely if you see a dog approach you and your canine companion if you don't know them.
Change the walking route often & don't walk your dog on hot pavement or cement
Do change up your walking route often. Like us, dogs can get bored seeing the same sights each day. Change up their surroundings once in a while to keep things fresh and exciting for them.
Their footpads are sensitive to temperature and can burn on hot surfaces. Wait until a cooler time of day to head out for your walk or invest in some booties to protect your pal’s feet. Remember, icy surfaces can be just as harmful to your dog’s feet.
Do check your pet over before and after the walk
Before heading out, be sure that your dog is looking and acting normally. After walking, check them over again and also check the paws and fur for foreign debris that could cause pain or injury. Don’t forget to check for ticks, as well. Remove any dirt that accumulates on their body with easy to use pet gloves.
Focus on your dog completely while walking
The emails, texts and social media check-ins can wait until you get home. This is a time to bond with your pup and your phone is a distraction you don't need when on a walk.
Let your dog go and sniff wherever it wants. There are all kinds of things to watch out for when walking like scorpions, snakes, food, ‘bad’ plants, other dog’s poop (yep some dogs will eat it – blech) and cactus burrs/needle pods which can get caught in snouts and paws. It's important to take extra care.
Change direction in style
Of course, having to cross the street to avoid other dogs isn't the most enjoyable thing to have to do while on a walk. Here's how to do it in style; make it seem like it's a perfectly normal and intentional change of direction and pace.
Don't make a sudden movement that involves you yanking your dog by his leash.
One thing to be aware of at this time of year is things that your dog may eat that could be of harm. There can be acorns all over the place or horse chestnuts that have fallen off the trees. If eaten in large quantities, these things can cause stomach upsets or poisoning in severe cases.
What to do if your dog is getting distracted?
Dog not listening to your commands. This is a very common problem for most dog walkers I suspect, and a lot of owners too! Have a whistle – carry a two-tone one, as some dogs will find one of the tones more interesting than the other.
Toys are also very good at keeping the dog’s attention on you, and a squeaky toy might be a very good distraction.
A high pitched, excited voice when calling them helps, and I’ve even called my dogs and then run away to make them excited to follow me! It’s all about you being the most exciting thing to them, and then they will want to be with you over anything or anyone else.
Is my dog ready for a group dog walk?
You will need to decide whether your dog is ready to head out for a walk with so many other dogs.
Group dog walks are a fantastic way of socializing and exercising your dog. And I would say they do at least 10 times the amount of exercise when they are running around and playing with their friends than if they were being walked on their own. Always tie dog stamp on the collar, just in case you lose your dog. It can be found easily if the name and contact number are mentioned on the dog stamp.
But the group walk would not be suitable for every dog. Things to look out would be:
1. Is the dog-friendly and does he/she enjoy the company of other dogs?
A dog that does not enjoy the company of other dogs is not going to enjoy a group walk!
2. How old is your dog?
A young puppy or an older dog will not be able to walk as far or for as long as a younger dog.
3. Is your dog microchipped, wormed and treated for fleas regularly?
If your dog is outside and mixing with lots of other dogs, then this will make them more susceptible to picking up parasites such as fleas, ticks, worms, and mites. It is also a legal requirement for a dog to be wearing a tag with the owner’s details when out and about in public.
4. Is the dog up to date with their vaccinations?
If not, you need to make sure you speak to your vet for advice.
Lastly Don't Panic
This last step of the do's and dont's for walking your dog is a critical element to any of the things that may happen on your walk. Do not panic for any reason.
If you want to make sure you have a successful walk for both you and your dog, stay alert, be prepared, and keep calm in every situation.
What to do if your dog is looking worried or anxious. You should ideally remove the dog from the situation that is making them anxious. Or distract them from it without causing any fuss. Then reward your dog but only when they are relaxed, quiet and calm.
Very much like if a child falls over and cries and the parent makes a fuss, the child will learn that crying gets them their parent’s attention, and they will react in this way again, regardless of whether they have particularly hurt themselves or not. Giving attention when the dog is displaying undesirable behavior, will teach them to behave in that way in the future and you will end up with a neurotic, nervous dog.
Remember, dogs are intelligent animals and one of the reasons they make such wonderful companions is their sensitivity to our needs. So if you're feeling anxious about a situation they will likely pick up on this, leading to a reaction you're hoping to avoid. Teach yourself to spot the situation without reacting in a way your dog can sense, giving you time to steer away from potential trouble.
Once you've mastered all of these, congratulations, you're a dog walking pro and it's time to move on to a running routine with your dog!
All the best!!
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