Taking your dog for a walk is not always as simple as it seems. A good walk requires patience, preparation, and mindfulness. These five dog walking tips will help you to improve you and your dog’s walks and make the most of your experiences.
1. Let Your Dog Stop and Sniff
Walking your dog is not just about walking—it’s about exploring, too. For your dog, going for a walk is a chance for them to experience the world. That includes sniffing trees, grass, or whatever else they may be drawn to. It also includes marking their territory, so let your dog stop, sniff, and go to the bathroom frequently.
If you think these stops are becoming too frequent, train your dog by rewarding them when they walk for a distance undistracted. Consider using commands to let your dog know when and where it is okay to go to the bathroom so that they do not see every tree as a place they need to make their mark.
Keep in mind that walking your dog is not just for you; it’s for them. A good walk allows your dog to take in the world around them while also getting some good exercise.
2. Use the Leash Properly
A mistake that a lot of dog walkers make is pulling on their dog’s leash too often. Your dog’s leash should not control the walk. That’s up to you and your dog.
Leashes keep your dog safe from traffic and help control them from approaching strangers or other dogs. However, for most of the walk, the leash should be used sparingly. A gentle pull on the leash will remind your dog that you are there and influence them to keep following you. Constantly pulling on the leash does neither of those things. Instead, the constant pulling becomes normal to your dog and they will continue to strain against you for the entire walk.
If you have a dog who wants to go fast and, as a result, continually pulls you forward, consider purchasing a front-harness leash. These leashes discourage your dog from pulling and make it so you do not have to constantly pull them back.
Some dogs, especially those new to walking, will stop walking or walk in the wrong direction. Instead of pulling on their leash, wait for your dog to walk toward you and then reward them. Continue to reward your dog when they walk forward and stick by your side. Soon, your dog will learn the correct walking behavior making your leash-pulling far less frequent and the walk more enjoyable for both you and your pet.
Your dog might be able to walk with you without a leash, but be sure to leash your dog as a safety precaution.
3. Customize Your Walk
No two dogs are alike and their walks shouldn’t be either. It is important to keep in mind your pet’s age, breed, and medical needs when planning your walks. Some breeds will benefit from short walks while others need to spend a lot more time outside being active.
If you have an older dog, make sure you ask your vet if they’re still up for the same kind of walks you used to go on. As they get older, many dogs develop medical conditions, such as arthritis, which may shorten the length and frequency of their walks. If you have a puppy, keep your walks short. Puppies are easily excited and their high energy will tire them out quickly.
4. Be Prepared
Always be sure you are prepared before going on a walk with your dog. Even short walks require some form of preparation.
If you take your dog hiking or if the weather is especially warm, always bring water with you. Dogs get dehydrated just like we do and need to stop for water breaks often. If the weather is warm, protect your dog’s paws from hot pavement using protective dog mittens or drive your dog to a shaded, grassy park.
Making sure your dog has proper identification before going on a walk is important for their safety. Accidents happen, so be sure to have proper identification tags and consider getting a microchip implant for your dog.
Lastly, be mindful of others when taking your dog out in public. Always be prepared with poop bags to clean up after your pet and always ask permission before approaching other dogs or people.
5. Hire a Dog Walker
Most dogs need to go on walks regularly. Keeping up with exercise is important to your pet’s health. However, you’re busy, and going on walks with your dog every day isn’t always an option. Dog walkers are a great solution.
Hiring a dog walker is a great way to keep your dog on a schedule, even when you can’t be there. You can hire dog walking services a few nights a week, or even every day depending on your needs. Consider hiring a trusted ACGS dog walker. ACGS pet sitters and walkers are insured, bonded and Pet Sitters International accredited so you can be sure your dog will be given the best care.
Remember that walking your dog should be centered around your pet and their experience.
Keep these tips in mind on your next walk, but, more importantly, have FUN! If you’re having a good time, so is your dog.