If you've been a dog parent for a long time, you'll agree that many dogs enjoy going on walks. Aside from being the perfect time to bond and explore different environments, it is also excellent exercise for your pet. Learning how to walk a dog for the first time might seem overwhelming if you're a new dog owner.
Dog walking is essential for you and your dog, but primarily for your dog. After being indoors for a long time, most dogs may get bored and start to get playful or act up. As exercise is an essential part of your dog's routine to maintain optimal health, you must be ready to walk your dog as often as possible.
In this article, you'll find a couple of important dog-walking tips to help you become a responsible dog owner and ensure your four-legged companion is happy. At ShopHiddin, we care about you and your pet's happiness, so we have taken the time to share critical dog-walking tips to make the process more stress-free. Walk with us!
1. Actively Prepare For A Walk
Walking a dog properly starts with being actively prepared for one. These walks don't just require stepping out with your dog; you must ensure you have all the necessary items for a great walk. We advise that when stepping out with your dog, you have essential items like a poop bag, collar/harness, treats, toys, and even leashes if you're in the city.
Poop bags, for instance, are needed when your dog needs to "go" on the sidewalk. It is unsanitary and unfair to others to leave your dog's poop lying around for someone to step on. Having a couple of poop bags at hand makes cleaning up after your dog easier and ensures you don’t create a mess out of sidewalks or even private yards.
Treats always make walking more interesting and motivate your dog on days when you both go on long walks. If you're driving to your walk destination, modern dog crates can help keep your dog from distracting you in the car, especially if you have a pup.
2. Consider The Type of Dog You Own
As much as dog walking is essential for all dogs, you should also consider the type and breed of dog you own. For instance, if you have a puppy, you should understand that young pups won't have the same agility as a grown dog, so you'll need to take it easy.
If you're going puppy walking, a ten to twenty-minute walk is enough for the day or it could be stressful for them. The same goes for smaller dog breeds because they aren't built for long walks compared to bigger dogs that take a longer time to exert their energy.
3. Engage With Your Dog
Some owners only go dog walking with their pets when they need 'alone time to think.' As much as this is allowed, a dog walk is much more fun when you're not lost in your thoughts. Actively engaging with your pup builds a connection and is a great way to train your dog and teach them new skills.
Besides, dogs can be overly exuberant when exploring the outside world, especially places they've never been to. Hence, it’s best to focus on maintaining control and avoiding your dog running off and scaring people off the sidewalk.
4. Choose Your Leash Carefully
Although many dog owners believe using a short leash or retractable leash is a great way to maintain control over your dog during walks, it isn't recommended for all breeds and sizes. Going on a dog walk with your pup is basically to let them move around freely and exercise their bodies. Using a short leash makes it almost impossible for your dog to explore his surroundings freely, and with the leash pulling on its neck, your dog could become irritated.
We advise that you use an appropriate leash between three to four feet, which should be held in a 'J' shape while walking to allow more flexibility for your dog. In the same vein, retractable leashes can cause injuries to your dog's neck - especially with smaller dogs - if they're not used properly.
If you must use a retractable leash, make sure your dog walks by your side and not ahead of you so that you don’t have to pull on the leash when you want to change directions. Most importantly, training your dog to move with a collar or leash is very important and should be done before attempting to go on dog walks.
5. Participate in Dog Training During Walks
Another essential dog walking tip is training your dog during walks. Aside from helping you learn how to walk a dog efficiently, training your dog during a dog walk also provides the necessary mental stimulation it needs. If you own a pup, a walk is a perfect time to encourage good behavior and social manners since you'll surely get to interact with new people and dogs along the way.
Using positive reinforcement, you have to get them used to being around people, children, and other dogs so they can be comfortable and well-behaved regardless of where they are. It is also a perfect time for older dogs to teach them new skills and tricks.
6. Encourage Sniffing Around
Dogs have millions of sensory receptors on their nose. This means they naturally have a broader sense of smell compared to us. They have a larger part of their brains dedicated to detecting odors. Most dog parents often discourage sniffing because they don't want their dogs wandering off or being too distracted. However, refusing to let your dog sniff around reduces the mental stimulation it needs and makes it challenging to explore his surroundings.
To avoid this, ensure your pet has been trained to understand and obey commands like 'Come Back' or 'Don't Go'. It becomes easier to control them and ensure they're not easily distracted in their bid to trail a scent.
7. Take Protective Measures
Going on a dog walk comes with its fair share of dangers. This is amplified if you have a very energetic dog to explore the outdoors with. First, you must ensure that your dog is on a lead if you have crowded streets in your neighborhood, or busy roads with vehicles moving freely. You should also pay attention to the weather and take protective measures when it isn't favorable.
During hot weather, keep your walk as short as possible, and always move with a water bottle in case your dog becomes dehydrated. As humans, we would agree that asphalt can be too hot on bare feet during summer, so you should know it could burn your dog's feet as well. It is important to take walks on grassy paths instead to avoid causing injury to your dog.
You must also protect your dog’s shoulders from the cold during winter or rainy seasons by wearing a sweater or jacket before going out. Although doggy boots can be a burden for your dog, you may have to encourage them to wear them to avoid frostbite on their paws.
8. Ensure Your Dog Has Plenty Of Water Available
If you want to know how to walk a dog properly, it's necessary to ensure there's plenty of water available before you leave home, and especially once you arrive back. Dogs burn plenty of energy on walks, and like us, they need to stay well hydrated during exercise.
Ensure your dog's favorite modern dog bowl is placed in an accessible location, and sits at the correct height for them to drink from. Be sure to keep the bowl clean, and change the fresh water every day. Finally, don't forget to refill it regularly - walking can be thirsty work!
9. Consider Hiring a Dog Walker
Learning how to walk your dog is a personal experience that should be done yourself. However, it is understandable that some dog owners may not have the time to go on these walks or find it too challenging, especially for first-timers. In this case, you can hire a professional dog walker to help you walk your dog and teach you what to do when walking your dog on your own. That way, you can go about your daily affairs without neglecting your dog's needs, and rest assured they're in safe hands.
Walking a dog can be the perfect bonding opportunity, and is an enjoyable experience for you and your dog once you get the hang of it. With the right knowledge, you can be sure you're doing it correctly.
At ShopHiddin, we provide essential dog walking tips with all the insights you need to ensure first and subsequent dog walking sessions go well, especially as a new pet parent. Aside from providing the best tips for dog owners, we also provide top-notch items like indoor gates for dogs to ensure maximum happiness for both pet owners and their four-legged friends. Contact us today!