Taking your dog out for daily walks is necessary — both for potty breaks and to provide some healthy exercise. But walking your dog should not be seen as a chore — it is a great way to spend some quality bonding time with your canine companion.
Following these six tips will help you make the most of your special time together and they will keep your pup safe, too.
1. Watch Out For Other Dogs
If you walk your dog every day, chances are you will come into contact with a lot of other dogs. The danger is that encountering other dogs can lead to frightening altercations.
If your dog is well-trained and does not pose a danger to other dogs or people, it does not mean that other dogs you encounter on your walks will be so well-behaved. There are a few precautions you should always take to avoid becoming involved in a dog fight.
If you see another dog heading for you, move out the way. Keep an eye on the dog’s body language and watch out for any signs of aggression. These include bared teeth, a tense stance, and pulled-back ears.
If your dog does become involved in a fight, try to create a barrier between the dogs. Using dog spray is the most effective way to deter an attacking dog without putting you in harm’s way or causing the dog any long-term damage.
2. Choose The Right Equipment
Use a harness when walking your dog. It is more comfortable than simply clipping a leash onto his collar, and it does not carry the risk of giving your dog serious neck and back injuries if he lunges unexpectedly.
Your dog’s leash and harness should have reflective strips to make him (and you) more visible near traffic.
When choosing your dog’s walking gear, buy a harness and leash that is made from durable material — like cotton, nylon, or leather. The leash should be four to eight feet long so you can control your dog’s movements easily.
Before you go on a walk, check your dog’s gear for any wear-and-tear or damage and ensure that everything fits properly. The last thing you want is for your dog to break free on a busy road!
3. Follow Traffic Safety Rules
It is just common sense that you should abide by all traffic and safety laws while walking your dog. Stick to the sidewalk, and do not jaywalk.
If there are no sidewalks, walk on the side of the road that faces oncoming traffic and keep your dog on the side closest to the pavement.
It is always better to stay on quieter routes with less traffic — this way, both you and your dog can relax without having to worry about all the cars rushing by. Bring a flashlight if you are walking at night, and wear reflective clothes so that drivers can see you easily.
4. Start Slow And Stay Hydrated
If you are just beginning to walk your dog, start slow and gradually work up to walking longer distances. For younger puppies, overweight dogs, and senior dogs, this is especially important.
A puppy’s joints and bones have not fully developed until they are around six months old (or a year for giant breeds) — applying too much pressure on young joints can lead to bone and joint problems later in life.
If you have a senior dog, take him for a checkup and get your new exercise regime cleared by a vet. Your vet will also be able to prescribe anti-inflammatory medication to ensure your older dog is comfortable during walks.
Another important thing to remember is that you and your dog must stay hydrated — especially in hot weather. Always bring a bottle for you and your dog to minimize the risk of heatstroke.
5. Carry Identification
You and your dog should both carry identification. You should fit your dog’s collar with a tag that has your contact details — just remember to replace it if it comes loose.
Your dog should also be microchipped as a backup. Microchips are the best way to increase the chances of getting your dog back if he gets loose and becomes lost.
You should also carry a form of identification in case something happens to you on your walk — this can be a driver’s license or ID document.
6. Watch The Weather
Walking your dog in extreme weather conditions can pose risks to his and your health, so skip the walk if it is too hot or cold outside.
If it is moderately cool outside, you can buy your short-coated dog a sweater so that he is not exposed to the cold. If you will be walking in snow or ice, get him a pair of dog booties to protect his feet from the hard ground.
When it is hot outside, be extremely mindful of the temperature of the pavement, asphalt, and sidewalk. You may not feel it through your running shoes, but a hot pavement can burn your dog’s paws. Do not walk when it is too hot, because your dog can easily become overheated and suffer from heatstroke.