Walking the Dog: Tips on Having Fun & Being Safe
Walking your dog is a thing you do multiple times a day. Maybe you do it in the morning and night, or maybe you and your pup partake in multiple walks every day. Whatever your usual schedule, this daily activity can begin to feel burdensome after a while, especially if you live in a snowy climate during the winter months.
Rather than allowing your walks to get stale, you should work to keep things fun for both you and your dog, all while remaining safe. Here are a few ways you can enhance your daily walks with your four-legged friend.
Obey Your Local Leash Laws
It’s likely that your local municipal offices have established leash laws—laws that designate the maximum length a dog leash can be and when leashes are required to be used. While your dog might enjoy being able to roam on a long leash, it might not be safe for (1) your dog, (2) for fellow dogs and their owners, and (3) oncoming vehicles. To keep your dog safe and lessen the likelihood of an unfortunate encounter, it’s smart to follow your local leash laws.
Know Your Route Beforehand …
When heading out with your dog, you should know where you’re going. Whether it’s to avoid getting lost or avoiding homes that have aggressive dogs, you can take your dog on a path that’s safe for the two of you.
But Change Your Route Often
While you should know your planned route before heading out the door, you should also be sure to change things up. Take a different route every day, if you can, or head out on different routes each morning and evening. While it’s a change of pace for yourself, it’s just as fun for your dog.
Consider this: If you’re a runner or cyclist, think of how boring it would be to complete the same route every day, all without any changes. Your dog would feel similarly about a consistent walking route.
Change things up so your dog remains excited during your walk—as if you’re out on an adventure together!
Carry a Personal Safety Item
It’s imperative to protect your dog, but you should also ensure that you’re protected. It’s recommended that you keep a personal safety item on you—one that can fend off an aggressive stray animal or a vicious stranger. You should consider carrying a self-defense baton—one that will allow you to fend off an attacker with physical ease.
If you’re looking for a self-defense item that allows you to keep your space, you can consider pepper spray or dog repellent spray. However, if you decide to rely on one of these safety devices, remember to be cautious about how you use it, as you don’t want to accidentally spray your own dog in the process.
Hold Your Dogs’ Attention
It’s good to keep your dogs aware during your walk, from regularly calling out commands to interacting with them rather than allowing them to run freely at the length of their leash. The best way to undertake this is to regularly train during your walks.
This can be something as simple as getting your dogs to return to you upon your call or calling out to make them stop at sidewalks and wait for you. Bring treats along with you to reward them when they listen to your commands. This helps to reinforce good behaviors and establishes a power dynamic that will keep your dogs safe while out walking.
Ensure You and Your Dog Are Seen
If you and your dog are out early in the morning or late at night, the two of you might be hard to see in the pitch black. To keep both of you safe, it’s smart for you both to wear reflective gear while walking or running together.
There are a number of options available out there, and you can rely on something as simple as a neon construction vest or jacket. But, for your dog, consider reaching for an illuminated leash, neon sweater, or LED-flashing collar. Each of these options brings attention to your dog, making him or her noticeable to fatigued drivers heading to or from work.
Consider Getting Off-Leash When You Can
While in residential and urban areas, you should certainly keep your dogs on their leashes. But if you can bring your dogs out to the woods or to a pasture, consider letting them run and play off-leash. Some parks will still not allow it, and signage will say so, but you should give your dogs space to run.
If you’re in a particularly urban area, you should bring your dogs to a designated dog park. These are perfect spots where your dogs can freely run around with other dogs. Also, it can allow you to relax while your dogs have fun, giving you the opportunity to meet fellow dog owners.
Invite a Friend and Their Pup to Join
To keep things feeling fresh, you should think about going on a tandem walk every once in a while. The joy here is that you’ll have someone to talk to and your dog will have another pup to play and explore with.
If you’re looking to make your walk even more exciting, consider walking your friend’s dog while they walk your own. But only do this if your dog knows your friend well, as you want your dog to still feel confident and comfortable while out and about.
Daily walks with your dog shouldn’t be boring or unsafe. To keep things feeling safe while making the activity enthralling for both you and your dog, you should regularly pay attention and make the most of each walk.