National Walk your Dog Week

Some people look forward to getting out into the fresh air with their pooch every day; others, not so much.  If walking your dog is a less than enjoyable experience, there could be some simple ways to improve it for you! 

Most dogs love the outdoors.  There are so many sights, smells, and places to pee that it may seem like they go a little crazy every time that front door opens!  However, an over-excited dog can be really difficult to walk.  It may seem more like they’re walking you than you’re walking them.  

If you have an “excited puller”, consider using a harness rather than a collar.  Harnesses discourage pulling and offer better control for you.  They are also better for dogs with short noses or any respiratory problems as they don’t put the pressure on their windpipe that a collar might.  However, some dogs just don’t like the feeling of a harness around them; in this case, a collar may be a better fit.  An advantage to collars is that they’re easier to slip on and off, but if you have an escape artist, you may want to go back to that harness!  Either way, ensure your dog always has his identification tags on him, just in case!

When choosing a leash, find one that is comfortable for you to hold.  Nylon leashes hold up well when repeatedly exposed to weather, but they can cause “leash burns” if whipped through your hand quickly.  Leather is typically easier on your hands than nylon.  Chain leashes are heavier but are a good choice if you have a dog that likes to chew on his leash.  A flexi-lead is best for areas where your dog can explore further from you.  They are NOT good for high foot traffic or biking areas as they increase the chances of your dog getting tangled up in someone’s legs, bicycle tires, or even another dog leash. 

When choosing places to walk your dog, try to mix it up a bit; your dog will appreciate the change of scenery!  Avoid lawns and flowerbeds that may have toxic weed killers or insecticides on them.  There are also certain plants and flowers that can cause tummy troubles for your pooch, so if you’re trying out a new area, stay on the path or sidewalk.  Off-leash areas and dog parks are a wonderful place for your dog to get that extra exercise but they MUST know how to come when called and be able to get along with other dogs and people.

An average dog in good health should have no problem putting in a couple 30-minute walks per day.  More active breeds may be able to do a few 60-minute walks.  Older dogs or more docile breeds may only be able to go for 15-20 minutes.  If you’re unsure of how far and often to walk your dog, ask your veterinarian for advice.  They will be able to guide you based on your dog’s age, breed, and health condition. 

Whatever you do, just don’t forget those extra poop bags!!