You may think that taking your dog for a walk is as easy as clipping a lead on a collar and you’re good to go. However, there are several tips that may make your dog walking experience a little better than it was before.
What leash to use?
There are several types of leashes out there, so how do you know which one to pick? Besides picking one for the fun, colorful pattern, it is important to pick one that feels conformable to you. When your dog drags you across the grass, you will want to be able to tug tightly on that leash without it ripping your skin off. It is important to pick your leash based on comfort rather than pattern. So there is lots to choose from, how do you know which is right for you?
- Retractable leashes are best when used for walks in the park or in an area where it is safe for your dog to walk around and explore. These leads are not good for training and they can be very flimsy. However, they’re great for giving your trained dog some room to play around. They give your dog the flexibility to move around and a sense of “freedom” while giving you the quality of control. For a bigger dog that might tug and pull, these leashes can snap more frequently than other leads. The longer lines of the leash might get tangled around your dog or around your leg, so be prepared to do an Irish jig if you get tangled.
- For a pup that likes to chew, chain leashes are a great way to break the habit. Not only do they look sleek, but they’re heavier in weight and they don’t taste nearly as nice as nylon to your dog. The downfall? Chain leashes can be very hard on your hands, especially if you have a dog that tugs and pulls during your walk.
- Leather leashes are gentle on the hands and they tend to have an up-scale look. However, be advised that real leather leashes can get ruined in the rain if not treated with a protectant and they can be fun chewing toys for your dog.
- Then there is the oh-so-common nylon leash. Great for training your pup and able to come in lots of fun colors and patterns. They hold up well in all sorts of weather and nowadays, they even make a water resistant nylon lead to protect the material for even longer. Be cautious because if your one for sensitive hands, a nylon leash may not be right for you. They can leave marks and skin irritations on your hands if your dog is a puller.
Do you need to bring any extras?
While walking with your dog is a great bonding experience, it can also mark a great time to train. Your dog will get the thrill of playing, but you can squeeze in some good training with tasty treats (and what dog doesn’t love treats). Below is a list of goodies you can bring on walks that will not only benefit you, but they will benefit Fido as well.
- Water - If you think your walk might turn into a longer trip or if it’s smoldering hot outside, it might be a good idea to pack some water. Fresh water will help keep Fido hydrated and keep his tail wagging. Dogs love playing outside and the exercise is very good for them. Keep their body re-fueled with cool, fresh water.
- Portable Bowls - For those longer trips, if you do happen to pack water, you will need something to put it in right? The correct answer is yes! Foldable, portable travel bowels are very handy and convenient. They fold up into small pouches, which are easy to pack. Heck, they can even fit in your back pocket. It will do you no good to bring bottled water, without something to put it in. The travel bowls are a useful way to be prepared without weighting yourself down.
- Treats - Use walks as training time by providing treats. You can teach your dog new tricks or practice old ones. Stuffing some treats in your pocket can turn a traditional walk into a fun, educational walk for your dog.
- Poop Bags - If you leave on your walk without disposable bags, it can quickly turn into a poopy situation. It doesn’t matter if it's a short walk or a long walk; every responsible doggy parent needs to be prepared. It is nearly impossible to tell beforehand if your dog has to go number 1 or number 2, so it's better if you are ready to go in the event of number 2.
- Night Walking Supplies – Night time walking can require extra supplies. Since crime rates are higher in the dark, it is better to be prepared. Most items can be small enough to fit on your key ring, so you aren’t stuck carrying more than you need.
- Cell Phone
How should you address others around you?
More than likely, you will run into other dog owners while you are on your walk. In the event you may have just came from a day of hell at the office or your boyfriend dumped you for the leggy blonde at Starbucks, put it past you, if only for a few seconds.
Walks can be a great way for your dog to make puppy pals and a good way for you to meet new people. Who knows, maybe you can tell people at your wedding that you met your husband or wife when your dog’s fell in love at the park? Being nice to others will make you and your dog more welcome by regulars. Once you’ve made friends, they will be more tolerable if your dog’s inner puppy comes out.
Where should you walk?
Busy areas may not be key places to go, but there are plenty of Fido friendly places to take your pup.
- Parks – Parks are loaded with open, grassy areas, making it a fun place for your dog to romp around. There are usually also lots of children, so if your dog likes tiny people, then it can be great for kids to play with your dog. However, if your dog is protective of you or doesn’t play nice with kids, stick to your own beat and if a kid asked to pet your pup, politely decline. Some dogs aren’t socialized to be around kids and if your pup isn’t accustomed to a poke in the eye, it will save you a ton of grief to keep your dog away from the crowds.
- Buddy up – If your pup is fond of other dogs, make a play date. Group walks are entertaining to watch your dog play and it can be a good way for you to socialize with the masses.
- Mix it up – Taking your dog to different locations will keep it interesting and exciting for your dog. Every time your dog visits somewhere new, they get a plethora of new smells. Visiting a dog park one day, then maybe a park the next day, can be a fun way to spice up your walks.
What should you do for protection?
No, we aren’t talking about safe sex here! We are talking about mosquitos (you know, those small blood-sucking flying bugs?) Anyway, it is a good idea to spray yourself down with some bug spray. Humid climates can be swarming with them and you can be one tasty meal if you don’t protect yourself.
Make sure to spray yourself and not your dog! Even though you want to play mamma bear and protect your cub, dogs can be gravely affected by bug spray. Most sprays contain a substance called DEET. It is toxic to dogs and cause neurological problems in pets. Be sure to keep the spray to yourself, your pup will be just fine without it.
All of these tips can make your dog walks a much better experience for you and your pup. They may even change your life. Okay, maybe not change your life, but definetly make your bonding experience with your pup more enjoyable. Make the most out of the time you spend with your dog. Look at it this way, being prepared will allow you to spend bonding time with your pup, versus running from a rioting crowd after you forget the poop bag.
Photo courtesy of quinn.anya