Let me say at the outset that not all of us walk our dogs every day. See Are There Any Reasons For Not Walking Your Dog for more thoughts on this highly contentious issue. I don’t walk Janice and Leroy every day, but I do take them to the dog park regularly, and they also have a huge yard to play in.
If you live in an urban area, though, you might not have as many options for exercising your dog, and regular walks might be essential. If that’s the case, then you might appreciate some of the dog walking tips I’ve discovered.
Here are 10 ideas that will make it easier and more enjoyable to walk your dog.
1. Get a Front Clip Harness
This is one of the best dog walking tips for people who have dogs that tend to pull on the lead. Collars and back clip harnesses aren’t all that helpful when it comes to stopping your dog from pulling, but a front clip harness gives you considerably more control.
Of course it’s important to remember that just getting a front clip harness isn’t going to solve all your problems. You’re still going to have to work with your dog and train him to walk properly on lead.
2. Allow Your Dog Mental Stimulation
Of course the main reason you walk your dog is to get him some exercise but he also needs mental stimulation. Often, the daily walk or two is the only time that your dog gets to go exploring, smell different things, leave pee mail for other dogs, and generally enjoy his neighborhood. So from time to time, ease up on the leash and let your dog go his own way. As long as he knows to come back when you tell him to, it’s all good.
3. Don’t Use a Retractable Leash
Retractable leashes are, quite simply, a very bad idea. First of all, most of them are far too long for you to be able to control your dog, and it’s easy for him to run into the street or other sources of danger. The locks are flimsy, and will often disengage. Sometimes, retractable leashes can even lead to the loss of digits in both humans and dogs.
A traditional leash will always give you more control than a retractable leash.
4. Scoop the Poop
When you’re walking your dog, you should always pick up his deposits. Not only does this make you a considerate person, it also works to prevent health issues. Dog poop can contain all manner of harmful organisms, many of which can be transmitted to other dogs, and some which can even affect humans. It also doesn’t do much for the water table. You might be surprised to know that up to 30% of contaminants in urban watersheds get there courtesy of dog poop.
There’s really no excuse for not picking up poop. Just put a couple of plastic bags in your pocket when you’re out on your walk, pick up the poop, and dispose of it when you get home.
5. Bring Water
You probably wouldn’t think of heading out on a hike without a bottle of water, and yet it’s amazing how many people don’t consider their dogs’ needs. Dogs don’t regulate their temperature as effectively as we do, and it’s really easy for them to become overheated. So bring along some water and a collapsible bowl.
6. Make Sure Your Dog Has ID
Any time that your dog is outside your home, he should be wearing an ID tag. If he breaks his leash and takes off, you want to be sure that you have a good chance of getting him back. Also, if the worst happens on your walk and you end up being injured and unable to communicate, it’s important that rescuers will know who the dog belongs to.
Of course the best way of creating ID for your dog is to have him microchipped. Dogs can often travel significant distances, and there’s also the possibility that if you lose your dog, he might be picked up by a “good Samaritan” who could conceivably transport him to a far-away town. Even if your dog ends up hundreds of miles away, he can still be reunited with you if he’s microchipped.
7. Watch the Pavement
In summer, pavement can get far too hot for your dog’s sensitive paws. So before you head out on your walk, put your hand on the pavement and hold it there for about five seconds. If you’re uncomfortable, then the pavement is too hot and you should find another place to exercise your dog. Go to the park, take a walk in the woods, or head out to the lake. At the very least, put some protective booties on your dog’s feet.
8. Bring Treats
It doesn’t matter where you choose to walk your dog, you can assume that there will be distractions – squirrels other animals, funny-looking humans – you get the idea. When you encounter a distraction, treats can be your best friend. Almost any dog will prefer a high-value treat over pursuing a distraction.
9. Don’t Approach Other dogs Uninvited
Your dog might be the friendliest canine in the world, but that doesn’t mean that every dog he meets on your walk is going to be equally friendly. So just use common sense, and if you meet a fellow dog walker, ask if it’s okay to approach. And if your dog isn’t friendly toward other canines, move in the other direction if you encounter another dog walker.
10. Wear Reflective Gear at Night
If you’re in the habit of driving at night, you’ve probably seen plenty of pedestrians that are dressed all in black or grey, and just blending in with the pavement. You wonder what the hell they’re thinking.
If you’re walking your dog at night, you should always wear something reflective – clothing for yourself, and perhaps an LED collar for your dog. Simply having the right gear can literally mean the difference between life and death for both you and your dog.
The Final Word
These are my favorite dog walking tips. Do you have any that you’d like to add? Leave a comment!