If you have a dog, you have to walk him/her, it’s that simple. Especially if you live in an urban environment with little or no yard, like so many of us do nowadays. Dog walking can be enjoyable, or it can feel like the worst punishment known to man. It’s all about how it’s done. The following are 10 dog walking tips to make sure you both enjoy the outing.
#1 – Be Prepared
Make sure you have everything you may need on your walk. This includes poop bags (extra just in case!), treats, ID tags on your pet, an extra leash, and a pet deterrent spray such as Direct Stop in case you encounter an unfriendly loose dog. I like to keep all my dog walking stuff in one bag, so it’s easy to grab on the way out and I won’t forget anything. Long walk? Don’t forget water and a travel bowl.
#2 – Focus on the Walk
It’s easy to get engrossed on your phone or talking with the person who accompanies you, but if you aren’t pay attention, bad things can happen. A loose dog may “sneak up on you,” your dog may react to something you could have avoided, a child may run up and grab your dog, your dog’s leash may be yanked from your hand because you were caught off guard when she spotted a squirrel – the possibilities are endless. A guy in San Diego literally walked off a cliff and died just last month because he was looking at his phone! Think of that walk as “you and her” time and keep your focus on your dog.
#3 – Know Your Dog
A nice walk begins and ends well. This means knowing how far your dog can go without being too exhausted, knowing if your dog can handle walking on the busy street or if they would be happier down a quieter one. Not friendly around kids? Don’t walk past a school when school is starting, being let out or during breaks. You can work on these with training, but if you are just walking for exercise or a bathroom break, don’t put your dog in a situation where he may make the wrong choice.
#4 – Keep A Hand Free
Trying to juggle your dog, phone, coffee, groceries, etc., can lead to problems if you need to suddenly react (plus, how are you going to pick up after your pet?). It’s best to limit your “baggage” so you always have a hand free. You can always carry a backpack of shoulder bag if needed.
#5 – Set A Schedule
If you are potty training, take your walks at the same time every day. This helps your dog settle into a “routine” and once he gets it, he will be less likely to have an accident in your home.
#6 – Stay Visible
You and your dog should both be wearing bright colors and reflective accents are always a good idea. Avoid walking when it’s dark out. If you have to, put a light on yourself AND your dog’s collar to help you both stay safe.
#7 – Keep ‘Em Leashed
Your dog is safer attached to you. So be sure you have him on a leash every time you step out of your house for a walk. Going to an off-leash dog park or beach? Fine. But keep ‘em leashed until you get there.
#8 – No Flexi-leads
Flexi-leads are not appropriate for regular walking! They can cause hazards to other people on the street, they allow your dog freedom to go up to people and dogs he should not, and do not allow you to quickly regain control of your dog should you need to. These are just a few of the reasons they should not be used. Save them for walks in open spaces when you are not around other people and dogs.
#9 – Tell A Friend
If you are planning on a long walk somewhere new, it never hurts to tell a friend or a family member where you are headed – especially if it’s off the beaten path. That way, should something happen and you can’t reach them, they have a general idea of where to start looking.
#10 – Look For Road Hazardous
Unfortunately, people are not tidy and sidewalks are often littered with garbage – including broken bottles, old food, even needles. Keep an eye on the ground so your dog doesn’t accidently walk in glass and watch him if he goes after anything on the ground, it could be harmful to his health. Even in the woods and beaches people leave behind things, so it’s best to keep an eye out no matter where you walk.