Tips For Walking Your Dog
Something we all know about sharing your home with a dog is that they require daily exercise. One of the best things you can do for both you and your dog is take your pup for a walk. While out walking, both you and your dog get some exercise, fresh air, a little time to unplug from screens or your hectic work day, and relax. Here are some helpful tips to make walking your dog more pleasurable for both of you, hopefully leading to a higher likelihood you will get out and walk with your pup.
- Always make sure your dog has identification with accurate information every time you leave the house. ID tags on your dogs collar, a collar with information printed/embroidered on it, or a plaque riveted to the collar are just a few ways to keep an ID on your dog. A microchip with current information is also highly recommended. We obviously take every precaution to make sure our pet doesn't get loose, but in case of an emergency, a tag with your phone number on it is normally the first thing someone looks for when they find a pet.
- Walks can have different purposes. Some walks should just be relaxing, easy paces with plenty of time set aside to sniff around. Allowing them time to stop and sniff is great mental stimulation. Some walks are strictly about allowing the dog to relieve itself, maybe before heading to work in the morning. Other walks may be more structured, centered around some kind of training, like teaching the dog to heel or working on focusing the dogs attention on you. Just remember to always keep it fun for both you and the dog.
- If your dog struggles with focusing on you, or is easily distracted by every little leaf that blows around, make sure to carry some high valued treats. When your dog gets distracted, or even better, before he has an opportunity to be distracted, get his attention. When you have it, give him a treat. This works better if he isn't on a full belly (the same goes for doing obedience training) to make it more likely he wants your treats. You will be surprised how fast your dog will give you it's undivided attention when it knows you have yummy treats.
- Use the proper leash. A good quality 4-6 foot lead is great for taking a dog for a walk, especially if you are working on training or behavioral issues. Retractable leashes are not good for walks. If you have a puller, a retractable leash can make it hard to correct that. They are also dangerous in a high traffic area, or when there are lots of other pedestrians around. The locks have been known to fail, and people can trip and fall over the leash when extended. Retractable leashes are great for training specific things like recall, or for a trip to the beach.
- Remember that not all dogs are dog friendly. Always ask prior to approaching another dog. Leashed introductions can prove very threatening to a reactive dog that wants to fight or flight, and the leash effectively removes the flight option. Never allow your unleashed dog to approach a leashed dog, regardless of how friendly your dog is.
- Always make sure you carry water for your dog if you plan on being out for awhile. It gets hot in the summer, and your dog can overheat. Fresh water can help keep your dog cool and hydrated.
- Always clean up after you dog. Attach a poop bag dispenser to your leash or stash some bags in your pocket whenever you leave the house with your dog. It's a good idea to always have extras, in case you see someone along the way that forgot theirs, or your dog needs more than one.
- If you walk in the evening or early morning, consider using reflective gear like these high visibility jackets, reflective collars, or reflective leashes for safety. Some gear have LED lights built in to help make your dog more visible and keep you safe.
- Watch out for hot pavement! Hot pavement can burn a dog's paws. Try the 5 second test. Place your hand or bare foot on the pavement. If you can't keep it there for 5 seconds because it burns, it is too hot for your dog. You can invest in boots for your pup, or walk early in the morning or later in the evening when it is cooler.