Walking your dog is a big part of their day and yours. It’s an excellent way to get exercise and bond with your pup. It also helps to reduce its energy and anxiety levels by taking care of some of its basic needs. If you’re working from home, this is a huge benefit as it, in turn, creates a more stress-free environment for you!
But what are some things you need to know to have the best walks ever?
Here are the top seven dog-walking tips you need to know.
Dog Walking Tip #1: Use a Dog Harness
One of the main issues new pet parents face is how to walk a dog who pulls on the leash. In your dog’s eyes, you walk too slowly for its doggy nature.
Dogs' senses are heightened and they are ready to explore. Once they catch onto something, dogs will drag their humans behind them. So, you tug them back to keep them with you.
Many dogs react poorly when they are tugged in a direction they don’t want to go and their instinct is to pull even more. This is because dogs have an opposition reflex, meaning that if you pull on their leash, they will pull back.
But all that pressure, tugging, and stress on the leash is hard on your dog’s throat, particularly for small dogs or those prone to collapsing trachea. Pulling harms dogs!
Harnesses are safer and they prevent dogs from slipping out of their collar because they wrap around the torso, instead of just the neck.
A well-fitted harness keeps your dog comfortable, keeps its neck safe, and helps you control your dog without risk of injury or death.
We have a variety of harnesses for dogs of all sizes that can improve your walks with your dog!
BONUS TIP: Be Sure to Walk with a Loose Leash
Teach your dog to walk with a loose leash, or when you have the leash hang down in a “J” shape between you (example below). You should also stop and change direction whenever your dog gets ahead of you.
Only let your dog walk when the leash is slack. The loose leash will eliminate pressure on his throat and prevent you from triggering its opposition reflex.
Dog Walking Tip #2: Train Your Dog On Walks
Walks are a great time to train your dog on how to interact with people and other dogs and get them used to the outside world.
You will need to be firm with your dog at the start. Use positive reinforcement like treats, physical touch, and congratulations so they know what good behaviors to keep doing.
Dog Walking Tip #3: Stick to a Routine
Dogs operate well under routines because routines bring expectations into their day. Expectations minimize anxiety.
When you walk your dog, make sure to do it daily at the same time and to the same places. The repetition and the training will help them learn how they are expected to behave. It also helps dogs stay calm when they know where they are going.
When you introduce them to new walking areas, they know how to behave better.
Dog Walking Tip #4: Just in Case…
Can you spot @neotheoldeenglishbulldog?
No one wants to think about the possibility of their dog getting lost. But it does happen. If you don’t yet have a harness or your dog manages to get away from you, ensure that you can find your dog, or someone who finds your dog can get a hold of you. Before you walk your dog:
- Make sure your dog has a collar with its information and your contact details attached.
- Update your contact information on its collar. You don’t want anyone contacting you at an old address or phone number. Maybe you’ve taken your dog on vacation. If your dog gets lost while you’re there, your home phone number won’t help you. Trust us, this has happened.
- Microchip your dog. One of the most important dog-walking tips is to have your dog microchipped. That way, you’ll be able to find them if they ever wander off or get lost.
Dog Walking Tip #5: Be Prepared Before You Go
What to Bring
Before you head out, bring a few things with you:
- Poop bags: Always clean up after your dog. Not only is it common courtesy, but if you don’t, you could be faced with a hefty fine.
- Bottle of water: For your hydration and our dog’s. Maybe bring a collapsable dish!
Don’t Forget the Treats
Treats are especially important if you are training your dog to better behave while on a walk. Don’t leave these behind or you may end up turning around toward home before you want.
Consider the Weather
Both the heat and the cold can affect your dog. Some breeds are more susceptible to weather changes than others. Bring a jacket for your dog in the cold and mind your dog’s paws on hot or cold pavement. On severe weather days, find ways to exercise indoors.
Dog Walking Tip #6: Take Your Time
Walks are not to be rushed as they are huge activities to stimulate your dog’s brain.
Did you know that humans have five or six million scent receptors in our noses, but dogs have up to 300 million in theirs?
They also have a far larger area of their brain devoted to their sense of smell, as well as a Jacobson’s organ that helps them detect normally undetectable odors such as pheromones. All of this adds up to a sense of smell that is at least 10,000 times greater than a human’s!
So don’t stop them from sniffing. Dragging your dog away from an interesting scent, or asking him to heel the entire way around the block, prevents him from getting the full benefit and mental stimulation a walk can provide.
Dog Walking Tip #7: Know How Much Exercise Your Dog Needs
Some dogs need more exercise than others, so do research on breeds. Some breeds and mixes will be perfectly happy with a couple of small walks every day, while others will need to go somewhere they can run around for a long time.
Puppies cannot walk very long, twenty minutes is the maximum they should be out for at first. You can gradually add time as your puppy matures.
Walking your dog is an enjoyable exercise you can both enjoy! Follow these tips to make your walks with your dogs more beneficial.
For more doggie photos and pup-related fun, follow us on Instagram at @joyrideharness. And for a more detailed blog post about finding the best size dog harness for your pup, check out this blog post!