Safe Dog Walking

There are 4 main reasons why we walk our dogs:

  • Exercise
  • Toilet needs
  • Mental stimulation
  • Training purposes

Dogs love to be outdoors, not only for exercise but also to enjoy the environment around them, sniff at everything they encounter, and socialise with other dogs and people outside of their home.

It’s hard to believe that it was quite common to see stray dogs wandering around suburban streets and housing estates not so many years ago. Not lost dogs, you understand – these well cared for animals all with a collar and ID tag. They were just out by themselves. They even had special people to call on. A discreet woof at the back door and then some tasty treats would usually be offered in welcome.

It rarely happens now, though, as dog owners have become more responsible. Clearly, it is NOT a good idea to let your dog take itself for a walk – it’s just not safe for the dog or for unsuspecting people who might come across the animal. The best answer is obviously to go out with your dog and keep him close by at all times. There are still things you should do to minimise the chances of anything going wrong, though.

Regular Exercise is a necessity

Many breeds of dogs are natural athletes. To be a healthy, balanced animal, he needs some form of physical exercise regardless of his age, gender, breed or size. I would recommend a daily exercise routine to prevent muscle wasting, maintain toned muscles, and elevate your dog’s heart rate for short periods. Walking your pet several times during the week and offering different types of walks to stimulate him both physically and mentally will help your pet live a balanced, happy and healthy canine life.

Good Lead Manners

Firstly there is no standard dog collar and lead. You have to get them to fit your dog, depending on how big and strong they are. A chunky chain type arrangement will be completely wrong on a Yorkshire Terrier! The collar needs to fit comfortably with some play between it and the neck but snug enough so he can’t slip his head through the hole. Leads are important, and you have to judge your own dog’s behaviour.

If you are using the extendable type of lead it is not a good idea to let it out while on the pavement of a busy road. You have no chance of preventing the dog from running out, and it is obvious how dangerous that might be, not to mention the potential costs involved. A motorist could sue you for damage if the dog causes an accident, and, of course, your dog can easily be seriously injured or killed. Common sense is very much required here.

At the park or some open ground, it might be safe without a lead, but a well-trained dog will undoubtedly make your life easier. You need him to come to you when called, sit and stay when told to and to only get in and out of the car when you say so. Tiny treats in your pocket are a handy bribing tool – it’s amazing how well your dog will behave! You can even use treats to protect you and your dog from potential aggression – if you see a threatening-looking animal heading your way, you could throw a handful of treats in his direction to give you time to make a hasty retreat.

Above all, be attentive and conscious of your environment. You need to be aware of approaching danger just as much as you need to make sure you are in a safe and welcoming environment while out for a walk. Dogs need the exercise, the chance to explore and the fresh air. Make sure you stay vigilant, be prepared and keep your dog’s wellbeing and safety in mind.

It is important to remember that dogs don’t hold grudges when out dog walking! They may have had a scuffle yesterday but could be best friends when they meet today. The trouble is that a human will remember the fracas for a long while and go out of their way to avoid further confrontation with the same dog.

Here are some things to avoid when walking your dog:

Don’t always expect the worst

Worrying that something bad will happen on your walk, as soon as you set foot out of the house, will set the scene for a bad experience. As you leave for your walk, change your expectations to a pleasing walk with your dog beside you.

Don’t avoid other dog walkers

When you see another dog approaching along the street, don’t drag your dog across to the other side of the road in a panic. After doing this just a few times, your dog will associate danger with other dogs.

Don’t panic

If you come across another dog on your walk – stay calm. Your dog will sense that you are relaxed and unruffled and will walk past each other or maybe give each other a friendly sniff. If, by chance, the other dog becomes aggressive or over-excited, your pet will sense your assertive and calm energy and will not worry at all.

Don’t yell

It’s all too easy when your dog becomes aggressive or overexcited on your walk to shout at him. This only aggravates the situation, and your dog will only copy your energy state and excited manner. Stay calm yourself, and your dog will calm down too.

Don’t pull

Don’t jerk the leash if your dog begins to bark at another dog. He will only lunge and pull harder as a reaction to this sudden tension – For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Look out for signs of fear

You should always be on the lookout for signs of fear in your dog. Some smaller dogs will romp quite happily with bigger ones, yapping away and leading them a merry dance. Others, though, will be frightened by the size and demeanour of a larger dog. As with everything else, it is a judgement call. You will soon know when it’s safe to let yours socialise with someone else’s.

Unfortunately, there are times when play turns to fight and having some helpful phone numbers to hand is a good idea – your vet, dog warden services, and pet insurance company are examples. It’s best to avoid potential conflict, but sometimes it comes up unexpectedly, and good training can go a long way to preventing trouble

Remember your own safety

  • Dress for thwe weatther – make sure you are dressed approrpiately for ther weather including suitable footwear such as walking shoes or hiking boots that provide plenty of support and grip
  • Tell someeone where you are going and roughtly how long you will be
  • Take note of any warning signs
  • Avoid poorly lit area during early mornings or alete evning walks when darlk. Stay to well lit public paths and pavements.

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