Dog Walking Tips:
Tips for enjoyable walks with your dog
Sharing fun walks with your pet is a great way to build a bond, have fun and enjoy being outside in our wonderful countryside. To get the best out of exercising any dog there are a few things that need to be considered.
Selecting the best lead for you
What is the best lead for walking a dog? There is no easy or right answer every dog and owner is different so you need to select the options that work best for you. My personal preference is a fixed lead with a neoprene padded handle, which offers full control and comfort for the handler.
Some of my customers prefer the flexi-lead option, which provides extendible and retractable leads in varying lengths and thickness. They enable a dog to experience the freedom to move but retaining a level of control. These leads are best used when it’s safe for your dog to roam a bit further away from you in an open area. They aren’t such a good idea if you’re walking somewhere with lots of people or other dogs, as there’s nothing worse than trying to untangle your dog while they are in the middle of playing with another one.
One type of lead that I find does not work well is a splitter lead, (where you can walk two dogs off one lead), these always results in one of the dogs getting pulled over when they stop to urinate and the other continues moving forward.
Collars are again a personal preference and you should go for the type that fits your dog the best and can hold up against the activity level and type of fun activities they like to get involved with. As I have a Labrador I always go for a soft neoprene (wetsuit material) and reinforced with nylon webbing for extra strength. This type of collar is easy to keep clean, quick to dry and waterproof! (which is an absolute must for me). They are also non-porous and this really does help to drastically reduce the odour that traditional collars can give off.
Dogs that pull on the lead
When a dog is just simply following their natural instinct to pull, forging ahead, pulling you from lamppost to tree, it really can take all the fun out of a walk. If it is a real problem you should seek the advice of a dog trainer to help break the habit, before you dislocate a shoulder. But with the following tips and a commitment to 5-10 minutes of training each day, you will soon be enjoying a more relaxing and pleasant walk with your canine companion.
- Sit your dog next to your left leg, with their shoulder in line with you.
- Get your dogs attention by holding one of their favourite treats in your hand.
- When you start walking move off with your left leg, saying ‘heel’.
- If your dog pushes off in front of you simply turn around and start walking in the opposite direction, putting them behind you.
- As soon as your dog catches up and reaches the correct position say ‘heel’ and get their attention by rewarding them with a treat.
- Repeat the above steps until they continue to walk to heel.
- Initially reward them each time they are in a heel position and walking nicely by your side. As they progress, you can increase the length of time between treats.
- Enjoy your walk and continue intermittently rewarding your dog for paying attention and walking with you. Once the behaviour is established rewards can be in the form of treats, play or just simply a ‘good boy or Good girl’ when they are doing it right.
If you’re going for a long walk, make sure you have water for your dog, especially if it’s warm outside. Overheating is very dangerous for dogs, and drinking lots of water helps to keep your dog cool. Thirsty dogs will drink any water they can find, which isn’t always such a good thing if the water is a bit questionable, so you are best to bring some for them. I always keep fresh water stored in my vehicle.
Don’t forget to scoop the poop and carry plenty of poop bags, you can use any old plastic bag, it’s a great way to recycle plastic shopping bags, so you get to save the environment two fold. When disposing of the bag it doesn’t need to be a dog waste bin ‘Any bin will do’.
Dogs love to run free
Dogs love to run, regardless of size or breed they all enjoy the chance to stretch their legs. If they are walking off lead you need to be confident that your dog will return to you when called. Recall is one of the most important things to teach your dog, getting them used to returning to a whistle and getting a favourite treat when they return, works extremely well. Similarly to teaching your dog to walk on the lead the same repetitive techniques can be used to teach recall.
Keep the walks interesting, by ringing the changes
Walking the same route or path everyday isn’t too much of an issue for your dog, they don’t get bored and it gives them a sense of security about their “patch”. But I always try to find somewhere new to explore each week. All dogs love experiencing the new sights, smells and sounds at a new location.
Dogs are sociable animals and love to walk with their friends. Group walks offer additional stimulation and play with friends which helps to not only socialise your dog but also to ensure they are well exercised.
A word of warning when walking in long grass
If your dog spends time running outdoors especially in long grass they run the risk of picking up ticks which can lead to them getting lyme disease, a tick check should be part of your daily routine when you come back from your walk. I always run my hands over each dog to give them a check before bringing them home, talk to your vet they can give you the best advice.