Most dogs really love going for walks. It lets them get out of the house with their beloved owners and explore the world around them. Walks are also a great way for the two of you to bond and provide necessary exercise and mental stimulation for your dog. If your dog seems bored or is acting out, it's possible that they're not getting out enough. Consider taking your dog for a walk at least once a day.
Going for walks should be fun and stimulating for your dog. It's also important to exhibit proper etiquette when out in public and on the leash.
Preparing to Walk Your Dog
Getting ready to go for a walk is not difficult. Possibly the hardest part is finding the time to do it! When you're busy with work, family, and everything else, the day can quickly get away from you. However, it's important for your dog's health and well-being (not to mention your own), so do your best to make time for it daily.
You will need to choose an appropriate leash for your dog. It should be comfortable for both you and your dog, easy to handle, and not too long; four to six feet is ideal. Before walking puppies, make sure they have been properly introduced to the leash.
Avoid retractable leashes, or at least use them properly. Ideally, your dog should walk at your side. They should definitely not be walking more than a few feet ahead of you because you will not have control if a distraction comes along.
You might also consider a harness over a collar. Harnesses redirect any straining onto the dog's shoulders and chest rather than their neck. It also gives you greater control over your dog and many dogs find them more comfortable to wear when on a leash.
Last but not least, be prepared to have fun! Walking should not be seen as a chore, but as an experience to share with your dog. Show your dog that you're excited about getting some exercise and it will be more willing and excited to go too.
What You Need
- Collar or harness
- Small treats
- Poop bags
- Appropriate clothing (for you and the dog if necessary)
Carry Poop Bags
Part of being a responsible dog owner is leaving no trace that you were there. That means you should always pick up after your dog! Rather than leaving poop around the neighborhood or park, it's only considerate to others to carry poop bags with you so you can clean up. No one wants to step in poop!
Consider getting a bag holder that will attach to your dog's leash or stuff a few in your pocket before walking out the door. Deposit the filled bags in a public garbage can along your walk or wait until you get home to dispose of it. It's not disgusting once in the bag and is simply kind to your community.
To make the walks enjoyable and safe, you must maintain control of your dog at all times. Keep your dog close to you when you are around other dogs or people by keeping a short leash.
You can make walks less stressful by training loose-leash walking as well. This will let your dog get plenty of chances to sniff around during the walk. After all, your dog's nose is the main way it explores their world!
Consider training your dog to stop and sit at intersections, especially in the city. It's a good safety measure around traffic.
It's also rude to let your dog wander into private yards. Keep your dog on the curb strip side of the sidewalk whenever possible. Be sure to avoid letting your dog eliminate in yards as well. If they do, pick it up!
Handle Distractions Properly
When out on your walk, pay attention to the environment around you. If you notice potential distractions (like cats, birds, other dogs, etc.) before your dog, you may be able to minimize their reaction. You can have your dog sit and look at you while the distraction passes. Keeping some tasty treats in your pocket might help your dog focus on you as well.
Don't assume other people or dogs want to meet your dog. Always ask before you allow your dog to greet others. Make sure your dog is well-socialized and trained on how to properly meet other dogs and people (especially children). If they're not there yet, kindly tell people who try to approach your dog that they shouldn't. It's not rude and is for their own safety.
Adapt to the Weather
Walking outside does come with its hazards and it's important to adapt your walks to the day's weather. Keep walks short in hot weather or with senior dogs. It's time to head home if your dog stops walking, begins to slow down, or shows any signs of exhaustion. Contact a vet right away if you see signs of heat stroke.
Avoid asphalt on hot summer days, as the road can burn your dog's paw pads. If it's too hot for your bare feet, it's too hot for your dog. On these days, consider a walk in a grassy park instead and be sure to take some water with you.
In winter, protect your dog's paws from icy, snowy, or salted roads. Watch for signs that your dog's feet are getting too cold as they're susceptible to frostbite. Doggy boots can help, but you'll have to let your dog get used to them as most find boots to be far from natural. Even if they don't work out, it's worth a shot and rather hilarious to watch dogs try them out!
Also, if your dog has a short coat, you might want to get a sweater to keep it warm on walks. Dogs are usually more accepting of these than boots and once your dog associates the sweater with the fun of going for a walk, it will likely welcome getting dressed.