Dog Walking Tips & Advice

Dog WalkerWhen you set out for a dog walk, it’s helpful to know just what to take along, and how to handle yourself and your dog. You may run into other dog walkers along your route, and you will want your dog to be well-behaved and obedient. Dogs are excellent companions to have on a walk, as long as they are well-behaved. If you are ready to head out, your dog’s tail is probably wagging already!

Always use a leash to walk your dog, so that you know he can’t get away and cause any problems. If your dog is accustomed to walking with a harness instead of a collar, be sure to put this on before you head out, and you will want to attach your leash to the harness, not his collar. The newer, retractable leashes are acceptable to use, and so are plain old dog leashes, as long as they are sturdy. If your dog tends to chew or bite on the leash, you will want to consider a heavy duty leash. Look over the leash every once and a while to make sure there aren’t any new weak spots where the leash could snap.

Carry a pooper scooper and/or a bag for your dog’s leavings. Newspapers come in plastic bags that are a great size for carrying along on walks, as are produce bags. You can put the bag over your hand, pick up the poop, then turn that bag inside out and tie it. You might want to carry more than one, just in case, and you’ll want to make sure there aren’t any holes in the bag. Even small holes can lead to a big mess!

Carry water for your dog and yourself when you head out. Depending on your dog, you may even want to have a small bowl, since some dogs won’t (or can’t) drink from a water bottle or other source. Even if your walk is planned to be a short one, you never know when something might delay you. Your dog will happily lap water from your hand, or you can buy a foldable water dish for him. If there’s a water bowl at the dog park or dog run you visit, you’ll want to empty it before allowing your dog to drink it, ensuring a fresh bowl.

Contrary to some popular belief, dogs generally do not need to wear any type of clothing or jackets. The exception to this may be smaller or skinnier dogs, or possibly warm weather dogs that visit a cold weather place. Dogs should naturally be able to regulate body temperature. If you are walking on snow or ice, and there is salt or other snow melting chemical, it would be wise to walk around the chemical or lift your dog (or possibly have your dog wear booties if he’ll allow it).

Call the local parks department if you are headed for a park that you’re not sure allows dogs, or check out the city website for dog rules and details. Sometimes dogs are allowed on the trails, but not in the visitors’ center or any other buildings, and some cities have specific leash laws. For example, dogs are allowed off leash in New York’s Central Park before 9am every day, but if a Park Ranger catches a dog owner with a dog offleash after 9am, it could lead to an expensive ticket.

If you don’t trust that your dog will stay with you when you take his leash off, it’s better to stick to fenced-in dog runs. Younger dogs may be more apt to explore other areas and/or may not listen to you as well as an older dog. If you’re unsure, or if you’re unfamiliar with a dog, it’s probably better to not let him off leash in an unenclosed area. You should always have treats on you in the event that you need to get your dog’s attention.

Pick out a shady spot and relax for awhile. You can play with your dog, chat with other dog walkers, and chill out. Just keep your eye on your dog to ensure he doesn’t cause trouble with other dogs or dig holes where they shouldn’t be dug! Since dogs don’t sweat, give them more water if they want it, and if there is a place where it’s OK for him to swim, as long as he likes it and the weather is not chilly, let him paddle around a bit. If you expect this, you should probably bring a towel. People love playing with dogs, but wet dogs are a different story.

Make sure your dog is wearing tags with your home and cell phone numbers on them, and be sure that his rabies tag is current. Micro-chips are even better, as long as someone will think to scan him if he gets lost. Relax and have a pleasant walk with your dog. Also, make sure your dog is registered with the city where you will be walking him. Some cities are more strict than others.

Dog Walking Tips by Breed

Photo: Flickr