1/9/2018 - Written by Certified Trainer and Guest Blogger Nicole Ellis
Going for a walk should be an enjoyable experience for both you and your dog. When you can walk together as a harmonious team, there's a whole new world of places you can visit and adventures you undertake. But if your walking routine isn't quite in step with one another, just the thought of your dog dragging you down the block – again - may deter you from including your dog in activities which they would otherwise enjoy. Here are a few of our top tips for walking your dog for national #WalkYourPetMonth:
Short leash - I stick to 4-6 foot leashes for Maggie and Rossi. No one needs a 10-15 foot leash. And retractable leashes? I won't use them for my own dogs and clients. Retractables not only don’t provide much control, they can also be quite dangerous to humans and dogs. I do admit that in certain situations - like in a nice field or on a big empty beach or for quick potty breaks in the yard - they are convenient. But if you're around traffic, animals or other humans, be safe and use a conventional leash.
Enjoy your walk! Remember, this is supposed to be fun. For both of you. But if you're stressed out and in a hurry, your dog will feel your stress. So set aside 30 minutes, put the phone down, and just focus on the two of you wandering the neighborhood. If you are getting bored with your regular walk, try going in the opposite direction or test out a new route.
Leash Pullers - If you have a dog that pulls, it can soon make your walk exhausting. When you've taught a 'heel' and worked on your leash skills and it still isn't getting better, it's time to consider using a no-pull harness. I’m a fan of the Balance Harness from Blue-9 pet products. The Balance Harness doesn't restrict your dog's movement (other no-pulls do, and this could lead to joint/muscle issues over time) and all the straps are adjustable so you can ensure a perfect fit.
Let them sniff - Leave some time and space for your dog to sniff. Our daily walk is about more than just getting from our front door, around the block and back again. The walk is a chance to work on training, to spend time together, and to allow the dog to get some mental and sensory stimulation. Allowing your dog to sniff around and check out the scents of the neighborhood is a healthy and natural activity.
Bring some treats - Feel free to work on your sit, stay, and heel (we'll go over these in a future blog) while you're out on your walk. Training in the house is one thing but getting your dog to sit and stay with all the distractions of the outdoors can be a real challenge, even if it’s just a few feet away from your front door. This is a great way to work on basic skills in a new environment before adventuring out to hiking trails and coffee shops together.
Night walks - Wear reflective gear - you and your dog - even for your sunset walks. Darkness can fall quickly and you want to be sure both of you are visible and safe.
Hot days - When the weather is hot, it's harder for our pets to go for long walks. Hot asphalt can burn or injure their paws. In the extremes of summer, plan your walks for earlier in the day to make it easier on your dog and in general, keeps walks shorter during hot months.
We hope you and your pets enjoy many walks and create many happy memories together in 2018.