Sometimes it’s a pleasure, and sometimes it is a chore; but either way, walking your dog is a must. Aside from the obvious health benefits that are bestowed upon both owner and pooch, walking your dog also provides a valuable opportunity for bonding with your dog.
So if you must walk your dog (and you do) then you might as well do it right. Here are ten quick tips to maximize your dog walking experience and to turn it into one of the highlights of your day.
1. Walk In Front. Ask yourself this question and answer honestly: Who is walking who? There is perhaps nothing more frustrating than being jerked up the street by an attention deficit dog that is attracted to every bumblebee and scrap of paper. A hyper dog has a way of turning your walks into a forearm cramping race, kangarooing you from left to right. A quick way to reverse the power of control is for you to walk in front. Your taking of the pole position signifies to the dog that you are the one in command and it forces him to keep up with your pace.
2. Choose the Right Leash. The selection of which leash to use all depends on the location and purpose of your walk. If you plan on walking in a dog park where there is plenty of romping room, then a long leash might be preferable. But if you are just trying to get in a quick walk before bedtime, then opt for the shorter leash. Short leashes allow you to exercise more control and therefore will enhance the efficacy of your walk. Also, they are best if you are walking in a crowded downtown or metropolitan area where there is constant traffic and harried pedestrians. And don’t be forgetful of yourself when considering a leash. Choose leashes that are easy on the hands, such as choosing leather over nylon.
3. Pick a Good Route. Selecting a trail or a route that is enjoyable for you will enhance the pleasurableness of each walk. Choosing routes that are safe, with sidewalks and off-shooting trails also eliminates elements of danger. Also, choosing familiar routes and being consistent in your activities while on route will teach your dog what to expect.
4. Bring Water. Water is necessary if you are taking a long walk. A dehydrated dog becomes an irritable one, and bringing water will help keep him engaged in the walk.
5. Use Treats. Along the same lines with bringing water, one should bring dog treats to reward your dog for good behavior. Treats help in obedience training and in keeping your hungry dog jazzed and energized.
6. Mark Out a Good Space of Time. Finding a good space of time to walk sounds easier in theory than in practice, but it is important to choose a time for walking that will allow you to walk leisurely. Allot at least thirty minutes to an hour for your walk. That way your mentality will be positive instead of rushed, and your dog will be able to get the full benefit of his morning (or evening) stroll.
7. Allow Time To Rest. Resting and the playing that results are fundamental to building a strong owner-dog relationship. Choose a nice shady area for both you and your dog to relax your muscles. Use this time to wrestle and coddle and enjoy each other, gearing up for a good second half of your walk.
8. Avoid Walking in Grass. Unless you live in the concrete jungle, grass is everywhere. And while it does seem natural for a dog to romp in the greenery, be aware that most grass has toxins and lawn products that could be detrimental to your dog’s health. Subsequently, some types of spring flowers (such as daffodils) are natural irritants to your dog’s stomach and it is therefore important to keep your dog away from most flowerbeds.
9. Avoid Other Dogs. Unless your dog is trained and used to being around others of his kind, it is best to walk away from other dogs. Aside from the ensuing woof fest that will wake up the neighborhood, you might find yourself straining to pull your dog away from another dog as they bark it out to see who has the better lungs. If you see another dog and owner coming, then maybe cross the street or veer heavily to the left. It may be a slight inconvenience, but it will help reduce the distractions on your walk.
10. Keep Your Dog ID Updated. Unfortunately, bad things happen. Dog’s run off, leashes get dropped, and humans get distracted. All could lead to your dog being temporarily lost. Provide yourself with peace of mind by keeping your dog’s collar and tags on and up-to-date. Perhaps even consider a microchip. These simple precautions can make a world of difference in the event of an emergency.
If you have a dog, you probably treat him like family. Heck, you probably even like him better than most humans you know. Walking your dog can be a bother at times, but do everything you can to clear your mind and enjoy the space of togetherness with your dog. He is man’s best friend, and it is your job to treat him as such.
Renee Terry is the owner of homesweethometucson.com, a leader in at-home pet sitting and dog walking services.