15 Amazing Dog Walking Tips
Walking your dog is one of the most practical and easiest ways to ensure it is at the peak of its health. Exercise strengthens the muscles and bones, allowing the dog to move with ease. It also helps minimize the occurrence of canine behavioral issues. Moreover, walking your dog strengthens the bond that you have with it. But, how do you make walking the dog more worthwhile? Here are 15 amazing tips for you to try.
Make Sure to Get a Clean Bill of Health for Your Dog
Any form of exercise for your dog should always start with a trip to the veterinarian. Do not assume that your pet will be able to handle the walking experience with ease. Health problems such as arthritis and heart disease can make walking very stressful for your pet. A veterinarian can help you determine if your furry friend is healthy enough to go on a walk. If not, then your veterinarian can suggest other forms of exercise that will be less stressful to the animal.
The veterinarian can also advise you on certain aspects of the walk. For instance, he can recommend the length of time that you should walk your dog. There are dogs that require only 15 to 30 minutes every day. Some may need to walk for at least 45 minutes twice a day. Everything depends on the activity level and the health status of the animal.
Always Train Your Pet to Behave on a Leash
With the go-signal of your veterinarian, do not go out for a walk immediately. If this is your first time exercising your dog, it is best to train it first. One has to realize that there are canines that tend to pull on their leash. There are also those that will chase an animal whenever they see one.
Training your dog to behave while it is on its leash is very important. Start training the dog in a safe and distraction-free environment. Build its confidence first before you head outdoors. Once your pet is already consistent in following your commands, then you can start proofing its behavior.
Always Have Your Dog Wear its Identification
Most pet parents think that dog identification is not necessary whenever they go out for a walk. After all, the animal is on a leash. However, accidents happen. You may loosen your grip on its leash. Before you know it, the dog is already running after a cat or another animal.
While dog tags work, they can get tangled in the bushes. There are also pet tracker systems that you can place in the animal’s collar or harness. Like the dog tag, these can be removed from the animal. A better approach will be to have your pet microchipped. Make sure to update the digital information before you head outdoors. This gives authorities the means to identify your pet in the event that it gets lost.
Use the Right Dog Harness
If your dog does not pull on its leash, then you can choose a harness with the leash attachment point located at the back. This allows the animal to move as freely as possible. If the animal has the tendency to pull on its lead, then it is critical to use a harness with the leash attachment located at the front of its chest. The placement of the lead deters the animal from pulling on its leash. The design negates the opposition reflex found in dogs.
Make sure that the harness is durable and has enough padding for optimum comfort. Choose the right size, too. You do not want the harness to constrict the dog’s body and restrict its movement.
Use the Right Leash
In addition to choosing the right harness, it is also critical to choose the right leash. There are different dog leashes on the market. There are training leashes, control leads, and standard walking leashes. As much as possible, do not get a retractable dog leash since you have less control of your pet’s movements. There is also the risk of the cord snapping and injuring you or your pet.
The ideal length of a dog leash for walking is between 4 and 6 feet. It gives your dog enough freedom of movement, while still giving you some form of control. If the dog is a puller, then pick a shorter dog leash. This gives you better control.
Let Your Dog Explore its Surroundings
Whenever you are walking with your dog, give it time to sniff around and explore its surroundings. This can help provide the mental stimulation that all dogs need. You see, walking is not only a great form of physical exercise. It can also be a way for dogs to expand their understanding of the world. You can only ensure this if you provide them with the opportunity to explore.
It is often wise to plan your walk ahead of time. You can take a break after every 5 minutes to let your pet sniff around and take in as much of the surroundings. This will help enhance the animal’s cognitive function.
Be Mindful of Your Dog’s Wastes
It is not surprising if your pet will be defecating and/or urinating along the way. The environment offers a lot of opportunities for the animal to do its business. As such, it is important to bring with you a roll of poop bags. This will help you pick up your pet’s poop on the trail.
There are dog leashes that come with poop bag dispenser, often in the shape of a bone. These are neat accessories to have so you do not need to fill your pocket with poop bags. In case you don’t feel like picking up the dog’s poop, you might want to bring a pooper scooper instead. Do take note that this can hamper your movement as you walk your dog.
Help Your Pet to Stay Focused on Walking
Sometimes, a well-trained dog can still be very challenging to control on the trail. This often happens if they see something that is more interesting than you. For example, some scenthounds can be difficult to walk. If they are able to pick up a very interesting scent, they will pull on their leash.
To help your pet stay focused on walking, you have to be ready with something more interesting. And what could be more interesting than yummy dog treats? When we talk about dog treats, they should be very special. It is something that a dog rarely gets at home. Giving it dog treats once in a while will keep the animal interested and motivated in walking with you.
Keep Your Dog Hydrated
Regardless of the weather, you should always bring fresh drinking water for your pet. Dogs, unlike humans, do not have an efficient sweating mechanism that will help them cool down during a walk. Some breeds are also more prone to overheating than others. Making sure that your dog gets fresh water to drink every 5 to 10 minutes of walking should help keep it hydrated.
You can bring a bottle if you like. However, there are now products in the market that combine a water bottle with a built-in collapsible bowl. This way, you will be able to provide adequate hydration to your dog without carrying too many gadgets with you.
Walk During Cooler Times of the Day
Do not make the mistake of walking your dog when the sun’s rays are at their peak. While your dog may have a thick coat to protect its skin, UV radiation can still penetrate your furry friend’s coat. This can lead to sunburn and other UV radiation-related health problems.
There is also the issue of the hot pavement. Your dog can burn its paws if you are not careful. Some may choose to let the dog wear boots. Unfortunately, not all dogs like wearing boots. Hence, a much better solution is to walk the dog during cooler times of the day. Early in the morning and late in the afternoon are the best times to walk your canine friend.
Use Reflective Gear Whenever Walking in Low-Light Conditions
There are pet parents who prefer to walk their dogs at night or as soon as the sun sets in the horizon. While this protects your dog against harmful UV radiation, it can threaten its safety because of low visibility. If your dog breaks free from its leash, it will be difficult for you to see it in the dark. If you’re walking on roads, there is also a chance that a motorist may not see you. This can lead to accidents.
If nighttime is the only time that you have to walk your pet, then make sure that it wears a reflective gear. There are dog leashes and harnesses that have reflective trims and panels. You can also purchase a reflective vest for your pet. This will increase its visibility at night.
Consider Walking Your Dog with Dog-Loving Friends or Neighbors
Walking is not only an exercise for your pet. It can also work as a means of improving its sociability. If you have a multi-dog household, then it should not be a problem. But if you only have one dog at home, then you might want to consider getting your friends or neighbors to walk their dogs, too.
This is an experience that dogs will appreciate. They can make friends with other dogs. They also get to meet people other than their respective owners. This can help improve their friendliness and overall sociability.
Ask Other Walkers First Before Approaching Their Dog
When you walk with your canine friend, there is a good chance that you will meet other dog walkers in the area. The natural tendency of most pet parents will be to approach the other dog. The dog may look friendly and docile but you could be wrong. Do not assume that a dog is friendly because it walks with its owner.
If you want to pet another dog, make sure to ask its owner first. He can tell you if you can approach and pet his canine friend or not. He may also be able to assist you by controlling his pet so that the dog is more amenable to other people petting it.
Let Your Dog Wear Appropriate Gear During Winter Walks
If you live in areas where it snows, it is important to get your pet the appropriate winter gear. For some pet parents, this may sound like an overkill. However, it can help protect your pet against the bitter cold. Not only that, there are many hazards on the road during winter. For instance, the chemicals used in deicing can get on your pet’s paws. It may lick its paws and ingest these chemicals.
It will not hurt to get your dog its own winter boots. Train it to walk with the boots because not all dogs like the idea of padded paws. If you have a shorthaired breed, then a dog jacket will be nice.
Be Mindful of Obstacles and Hazards on the Path
There are hazards and obstacles on the trail that you have to watch out for. Potholes, jagged rocks, sharp sticks, and others can injure your pet if you are not vigilant. The same is true when walking on roads. You have to be mindful of pedestrians and motorists who may be using the same road.
The thing that everyone needs to understand is that you have to stay vigilant whenever you walk with your dog. The outdoors is not the safest place for your pet but it needs to go out to exercise, too. So, you have to take on the role of being your dog’s guardian angel.
Walking your dog can be an amazing experience. You get to know your pet a lot better while ensuring its optimum health. Adhering to some or all of these tips can help you make your dog-walking adventures more meaningful.
- 10 Dog Walking Tips to Enjoy a Stroll with Your Furry Friend – Dog Training Excellence
- Dog Walking 101 – Pets WebMD