10 Dog Walking Tips
From the safest gear to training reccos.
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Going for a walk is the best part of your dog’s day (and hey, maybe it’s the best part of yours, too). If you’re a new pet parent, you might think dog walking is pretty simple. But the truth is, making a walk enjoyable for both you and your pup requires some foresight and training. Here are the top 10 dog-walking tips you need to know.
1. Use a Front-Clip Harness or Martingale Collar
One of the main issues new pet parents face is how to walk a dog who pulls on the leash. While training and practice are essential, the type of leash you have is also very important. Many dogs react poorly when they are tugged back, and their instinct is to pull even more. That’s where a front-clip harness comes in — it pulls your dog from the front so they won’t fight against it.
If your dog does the opposite and pancakes to the ground, turns on a dime, or is otherwise spooked easily (many newly rescue dogs are considered fight risks on walks, especially in urban environments with lots of scary stimuli, from skateboards to strollers. Martingale collars are designed to prevent an escape-artist dog from backing or slipping out of a flat collar, or wiggling out of a harness (it happens more often than you think).
“Because this style of collar gets tighter when pulled, they are known for preventing a dog from slipping out, which is why they are a favorite of rescues. A martingale collar has an extra loop that you clip a leash into so that when pulled, it cinches the rest of the collar down evenly around the dog’s neck. The limited cinch is gentler than a “choke” collar," explains Anne Christian, the founder of Dog + Bone, who make customized martingale collars.
2. Start Slow With Puppies
Many people don’t realize that puppies can’t be walked very far, no matter the breed. Twenty minutes is the maximum they should be out for at first. You can gradually build up to longer walks as your pup gets older and more mature.
3. Train Your Dog On Walks
Walks are a great time to start training your dog on basic good behavior. You’ll meet new people, interact with other dogs, and get them used to the outside world. You will need to be firm with them at the start using positive reinforcement, but they’ll soon get the hang of it. Everyone loves a puppy, but make sure you’re careful around children since you won’t know how your pup will react at first.
4. Stick to a Routine
While your dog gets used to walking with you, it’s a good idea to stick to a routine. This means walking them at the same time each day and to the same places. This will help them learn how they are expected to behave and will help them behave better when you introduce them to new walking areas. It also helps dogs stay calm when they know where they are going.
5. Bring Treats
Teaching your dog how to behave in public isn’t always the easiest thing, but it can be done. Knowing how and when to reward your pup is essential. A dog will listen to you when you have treats in your hand, so make sure that you only give them out when they’ve done something right, and not to get them to calm down. If you give your dog a treat every time they demand one, you’ll only reinforce the bad behavior.
6. Know How Much Exercise Your Dog Needs
The type of dog you have will determine how long you need to walk them for and what type of exercise they need, so be sure to do your research. Some breeds and mixes will be perfectly happy with a couple of small walks every day, while others will need to go somewhere they can run around for a long time to really let out their energy.
7. Be Prepared
There are three items (besides a leash) that you should never leave home without. The first one is, of course, poop bags. Always clean up after your dog. Not only is it common courtesy, but if you don’t, you could be faced with a hefty fine. You should also have a bottle of water with you. Even when the weather isn’t warm, your dog can get dehydrated quickly. Finally, a toy that you can throw for them means that they’ll be able to run around for a bit and enjoy themself.
8. Hire a Dog Walker
In an ideal world, you’d always walk your dog yourself — but unfortunately, this simply isn't possible. Most dogs need regular exercise and long walks, and if you can’t provide them, it’s best to look into hiring a professional dog walking company. Many dog walkers can also help you with dog training and have strict dog walking guidelines that they follow so you know your dog is in safe hands wherever they go.
9. Consider the Weather
Making sure you’re aware of your surroundings and potential weather dangers is one dog walking tip that is often overlooked. Both the heat and the cold can really affect your dog, with some breeds more susceptible to weather changes than others. Having a jacket for your dog in the cold and watching their paws on hot tarmac in the sun is a must. Consider getting pet insurance, just in case anything does ever happen when you’re out walking.
10. Get a Microchip for Your Dog
One of the most important dog walking tips is to have your dog microchipped. That way, you’ll be able to find them if they ever wander off or get lost. Having a collar with their name and your number on it is also a good idea. Happy trails!
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Gina Brugna and her husband Patric own and operate The Peaks Pet Nanny.