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How to Walk Your Dog: Our Top 5 Tips
One of the most enjoyable parts of dog ownership is taking your pup on long, leisurely walks. Whether it’s around the block or in a pleasant park, walking your dog provides him with exercise, mental stimulation, and entertainment.
But for novice dog owners learning how to walk a pooch for the first time can be intimidating. Luckily, we’re here to help! Here’s everything you need to know about walking your canine companion.
1. Get Good Gear
A dog walk will be only as good as the gear you get. To safely and comfortably take your pup for a stroll, you’ll need to invest in quality dog walking gear.
The best item to get your dog, regardless of his size, is a secure harness. For larger dogs or for dogs that are prone to pulling, harnesses that hook to the leash from the chest are best. If your dog pulls, this will throw him off balance and discourage his bad behavior.
Make sure the harness properly fits your pooch. It shouldn’t be big enough for him to slither out of.
Never use a pronged collar on your dog. This can cause discomfort or injury.
As for the leash, opt for a durable leash that accommodates your dog’s size. For a medium-sized dog, get a ½–¾-inch-wide leash. The ideal leash length is 6 feet long. This will allow your dog to wander around while still being securely attached to you.
Don’t forget a poop bag dispenser that can be attached to your leash.
2. Plan Ahead
To thoroughly enjoy a stroll with your dog, plan your walk in advance. Try not to walk him during peak dog walking hours if he’s shy or aggressive. These are typically in the early morning and in the evening around 5:30 or 6 pm. If your dog is aggressive, invest in a basket muzzle to keep both your pet and others safe.
For friendly and social dogs, walk your dog around the block or in the park. Ideally, you should be walking your dog two to four times per day, depending upon his exercise and bathroom needs.
Plan for the weather accordingly. If your dog is prone to heatstroke, avoid long walks on hot days. Always keep a fold-up dog dish and a bottle of water on you during long walks.
Keep the times and number of your walks consistent. Dogs are creatures of habit and will appreciate the routine.
3. Let Him Sniff
Did you know that dogs have over 300 million scent receptors in their noses? They experience the world through smell. This is why it’s important to let your dog sniff around, even if it’s annoying or time-consuming for you.
If you don’t want your dog to smell every tree and shrub along your walking route, teach him basic commands such as “leave it” or “watch me.” This will take his mind off the scent and focus his attention back on you.
4. Pick Up Poop
While this might not be the most pleasant experience on your walk, cleaning up after your dog is good dog owner etiquette. Not only is dog feces smelly, but it can also harm the environment. If a dog has parasites, another canine can easily get infected by smelling or snacking on their poop.
Always carry dog poo bags with you on your walks.
And while you can’t wash away your dog’s urine every time he pees, you can curb your pet from urinating on houses, fences, mailboxes, and cars. Designate his pee spots to grassy areas away from other people.
5. Don’t Let Your Dog Free Roam
While it may seem tempting to let your dog run free, even the most well-trained dogs could run off. A loose dog is at risk of getting lost, getting hit by a car, or getting attacked by a wild animal or another dog. Keep your dog on a leash at all times, unless he is in a securely fenced-in dog park. Keep ID tags on your pet’s collar and get him micro-chipped.
Dog walks can be a fun and enjoyable experience even for first-time dog parents. Buy the right gear, plan your routes, let your dog smell the roses, and never let him run off-leash.
With these tips, you’ll become a dog walking pro in no time!
Featured Image Credit: Jaromir Chalabala, Shutterstock
Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts’ knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.