Dog Walking Tips: How To Have the Best Experience

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Walking your dog is fun for both of you. You both get fresh air and exercise. 

It’s the highlight of your dog’s day. And a great way to bond with you.

But there are some things that you may inadvertently be doing that can spoil the walk for your dog.

And there are many things we should consider regarding our walks.

Yellow Lab walking on leash

Today we are going to discuss our best dog walking tips to help you better enjoy your outings with your best pal.

What Are the Benefits of Dog Walking?

There are so many reasons to walk your dog. Some are social and others provide physical and mental exercise.

Physical Exercise and Health Benefits

Both you and your dog physically benefit from a walk. 

If I didn’t have dogs to walk, I wouldn’t enjoy walking. The dogs make the walk FUN!

How far you’ll walk your dog depends on his age, breed(s), size, and health.

Walks help with weight management. They also help with cardiovascular fitness, to lower blood pressure, and to lower stress.

Dogs who have a sufficient amount of exercise are less likely to become obese, which can lead to other diseases such as cardiovascular and liver disease, osteoarthritis, and insulin resistance.

Walking can also improve digestive and urinary tract health.

It also helps your dog’s mental health. He’ll have mental stimulation on his walks and won’t be as lonely as he would be without them.

Your dog’s also less likely to engage in destructive behavior as he won’t be bored.

As a general guide, a walk of 30 minutes is good for most dogs. Of course, if your dog is just starting to take walks, start with five or 10 minutes.

But remember that, for some dogs, even a long walk may not be enough exercise. For example, Australian shepherds, Labrador retrievers, and Rottweilers when young will require more physical and mental stimulation than a walk will provide.

Social Benefits

Of course getting out and about provides your dog with new experiences. He’ll be stimulated by new sights, sounds, and scents. 

And he may meet new friendly people and dogs.

Walking also furthers your bond together.

But it’s also a time you may get to meet new people. I’ve made many new acquaintances and friends while walking my dogs.

It’s an ice breaker when people ask about my dogs. Of course, we all love talking about how great our dogs are.

Behavioral Benefits

Walking your dog helps with his behavior. You can train him how to perform his obedience commands and tricks while on his walks.

He’ll learn how to behave in the real world, not just at home.

Your pup will also be less likely to engage in unwanted behaviors.

Opportunity for Training

When your dog is ready to work around distractions, practicing his commands while on the walk provides a real-life opportunity to train him.

How Do We Unintentionally Ruin Our Dog’s Walk ?

Sometimes we inadvertently ruin our dog’s walk. We’re always in a rush and don’t “take time to smell the roses.” Or, in a dog’s case, the fire hydrant.

Of course, you take your dog out for him to get some exercise and even to go to the bathroom.

Often, though, we rush him and don’t let him have some down time to just sniff and look around. 

Although I like to keep a steady pace when walking my dogs, I also give them some time during the walk to sniff around while on leash.

I taught them a “sniff” cue that lets them know they can have a break from walking.

It’s fun and informational to them. Dogs communicate with the world during their bathroom breaks.

Sniffing another dog’s urine tells your dog who’s been there. 

Your pup can learn about other dogs in the community–their age, gender, and health. It’s often referred to as “pee-mail.”

Dogs may even scratch the ground and special glands between their toes can leave extra scent on the ground. So it’s more information for your dog to read or leave for the next lucky pup to come along.

Dogs have up to three million scent receptors, whereas we have only five or six million. So not allowing them to have some time during a walk to sniff really deprives them of something important that comes naturally to them.

Dogs experience the world with their noses.

Important Considerations for Your Walk

Before you even head out on a walk, there are many things to consider, such as the route you’ll take and the weather. 

The Weather

It’s important to check the weather while you plan your walk. If it’s too hot during the main part of the day, it’s important to go on your walk during a cooler time, such as the early morning or in the evening, depending where you live.

All dogs can suffer from heat exhaustion, which can be deadly. But dogs with short muzzles (brachycephalic dogs), such as French bulldogs and shih tzus, are especially susceptible.

Another consideration is the temperature of the surface you’ll be walking on. 

Blacktop especially absorbs the heat. So test the surface by holding your hand on it for a few seconds. 

If it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot for your pup to walk on and can burn the pads on his feet.

If it’s too cold, that can also be too much for some dogs. If you have a Husky, of course he’ll be ready to roll in the cold. 

But if you have a dog with a very short natural coat, a very small dog, or an older dog, a short walk may suffice. 

You can put a coat or sweater on the pup too. Get him used to wearing it first before attempting any walks.

And icy weather can be downright unsafe.

The Route

Most people don’t usually plan the route they’ll take when they walk their dogs. But this can be very important.

You should take the same route for a while–especially if you’re training your dog along the route.

If you’re training your dog to walk on a loose leash or to perform other commands, you don’t want to add any additional distractions.

But if you’re just taking him on a fun walk or practicing known commands in a new setting, it’s important to vary the route sometimes so that he doesn’t become bored.

Also, a new route holds the excitement of new sites, sounds, and, most importantly, smells.

It’s important to plan the route for safety reasons too. 

For example, you don’t want to run into loose dogs or where kids are practicing maneuvers on skateboards.

Before I go on a new route with my dogs, I’ll walk it first without my dogs.

You also want to make sure that the planned route allows even leashed dogs. Some hiking trails, parks, or beaches do; others don’t.

Remember: you’re responsible legally for any damage to people, property, or other animals.

The Nose Knows

Dogs’ sense of smell is at least 10,000 times greater than a human’s. They experience the world through their nose; they have a “nose brain.”

A good part of the fun of the walk to your dog is smelling what other dogs have been there. He can tell their sex and health by scenting the area.

So don’t make him heel or walk on a loose leash the whole way. You can give him a cue that will tell him it’s alright if he takes a break to explore the world with his nose.

I use the cue “sniff” so my dogs know they have the right to have some nosework fun.

Walking Equipment

Make sure that your dog is wearing the proper equipment for your walk. 

It’s usually best for him to walk in a well-fitted harness so you don’t pull on his neck. There are even anti-pull harnesses that can be an aid on your walk.

Of course, he should also have the proper identification, which is discussed below.

But what about you? It’s important to wear comfortable walking shoes. And, depending on the weather, other examples are: winter gear; sunscreen; sunglasses; sunscreen; or a hat. And stretching can get us ready for a walk.

Training

It’s important to train your dog to walk on a loose leash so that it’s fun for both of you. 

Although your dog may think that pulling to get to where he wants to go is fun, I’m betting that you don’t. And it can be dangerous. 

You can lose the grip on the leash or even be pulled down.

If he’s not trained to walk on a loose leash, he can potentially have tracheal or other damage either through him pulling on the leash or your yanking the leash to get him moving where you want him to go.

Also, the more you yank, the more he’ll pull against you’ He’s not being difficult or trying to be a dominant or the alpha dog.

Pulling is natural canine behavior. Because of the opposition reflex, he can’t help but pull.

Do short training sessions at first without distractions. You can even start loose leash walking sessions indoors.

Add distractions as your dog can handle them. You can even do a little training of other commands like sit and attention cues along the route.

You can gain control by teaching attention cues or even do a short burst of heeling.

What To Bring on the Walk

It’s important to be prepared for the walk. Preparation will make the walk be more enjoyable, safe, and considerate of others.

  1. Water. You should bring water for you and some type of bowl for your pup. 

There are collapsible bowls and even water bottles with an attached receptacle that swings out for your pup to drink.

It’s also important to drink a sufficient amount of water before, during, and after a walk.

  1. Treats. These are important to reward your dog for desired behavior and for training along your walk. 

You want to bring a high-value treat that won’t spoil and is no smaller than a pea.

  1. Poop Bags. Scooping the poop and disposing of it properly shows respect for others and their property.

And feces can leave brown spots on a lawn. It can also leach into groundwater.

It’s disgusting to step in poop. And it can spread diseases or parasites to other animals or people.

Also, it may violate the law not to pick up your dog’s feces.

As dog owners, we don’t want to get a bad reputation for not cleaning up after our dogs.

  1. ID tags and Required Tags. It’s important to have identification on your dog should he get loose.

You can either have a tag dangling from his collar. Or you can get an embroidered collar and have his name and your telephone number written on it.

Sometimes rabies tags are required by the government.

  1. A Favorite Toy. If you bring a toy your dog loves, it’s another way you can get his attention and redirect him away from something else.
  1. Reflective Equipment for Night Walks. Safety always comes first. If you’re walking at night, it’s advisable to wear reflective gear. 

They make reflective vests and other such items for this purpose.

Your dog also should have some reflective gear. They make led leashes, collars, and harnesses that are reflective. Some even light up so that your pup can be seen.

  1. Microchip. A microchip registered to you can help identify your dog should he become lost. Of course, check with your vet regarding whether your dog should have one.

As careful as you can be, accidents happen. And dogs get loose. 

Collars and tags with identification are important. But if your dog should get loose without them, a microchip can be a lifesaver.

Rules To Follow When Dog Walking

We should always be considerate of others when we’re on our walks. Their property and space should be respected.

Use a Leash

It’s important to keep your dog leashed while on your walk or run. A six-foot leash can be held at a length where there’s some slack but you can still maintain control.

Even if your dog does a reliable recall, he can get spooked by something unusual.

It’s also not fair to others if your dog runs up to them. Your dog may be friendly, but the other dog may not be.

And most people don’t want a loose dog rushing them or their dog.

Be Respectful of Others

Even on leash, don’t let your dog interact with other people or dogs without permission.

And always scoop your dog’s poop and properly dispose of it.

Don’t Trespass

Our dogs don’t have any idea of property lines or rules. So we have to. 

Make sure that your dog doesn’t trespass on someone’s property or snack on their vegetation. Or even urinate on lawn ornaments.

Pay Attention To Where You’re Going. 

Stop at crosswalks. Make sure that your dog’s leash doesn’t wrap around poles,

If your dog gets overly excited by something, like a bike going by, you can also prepare to make him sit or pay attention to you before it reaches you. 

Paying attention to your surroundings has many benefits.

Dog Walking Mistakes

There are some matters that we should take care of prior to walking our dogs. And others that we shouldn’t do on our walk.

Letting Your Dog Get Too Friendly

As stated above, not everyone–or her dog–wants to meet your dog. As cute as Bella the poodle is, unless the other person invites you and your dog to greet them, just walk on past them.

Using the Wrong Equipment

As I discussed above, use the proper harness and collar and leash. Don’t use a longline or a Flexi leash. 

You need to have the proper control of your pup by using a six-foot leash.

If the leash is too long, your dog can run around wildly reaching people, animals, bikes, cars, and other things that can be downright dangerous.

Not Having Regular Vet Visits

Your dog needs certain vaccinations so that he can’t catch–or spread– certain diseases. 

Regular vet visits are important also so that your vet can assess your dog’s health and whether he can take walks. 

Your vet can even answer questions regarding how much exercise your dog can and should have,

Final Thoughts

Walking your dog should be a fun activity in which you bond. It’s healthy for us and our pup and can make their lives more exciting.

Being considerate of others and your dog’s needs will show the world that you are a great dog owner.

How often do you walk your dog?

Please tell us about your adventures in the comment section below.

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Dog Walking Tips: How To Have The Best Experience - Yellow Lab walking on leash

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