We are supposed to walk our dog at least once daily. These walks are more than just physical exercise or potty breaks for our pooches. The walks provide them with mental stimulation and awareness of the neighborhood. It’s important for our dogs’ overall well-being. To help you make your daily walks more enjoyable, here are six dog walking tips - the Dos and Don'ts of walking a dog.
1. Do train your dog to be comfortable with the leash
Before you walk your pups, you’ll need to make sure that your pup has been properly introduced to its collar, dog harness, and leash. Introduce them one at a time. Once your dog is comfortable with a single item, introduce another. Some dogs may view these items as toys and will start chewing on them. Correct your pup with a simple but firm "no" and offer a distraction (toys or training treats) whenever you notice he starts to chew on the item. The best dog training treats are those made from 100% whole food ingredients and come in small morsels to avoid overconsumption of calories. The K9 Natural Freeze Dried Lamb & Organs Healthy Bites Dog Treats is made with 100% grass-fed lamb and organs, and contain no grains, no gluten, no artificial preservatives.
It is important to note that every dog is different. Some dogs may be fearful and struggle when you first snap on the dog leash. Choose an enclosed area to introduce the leash. Start by letting your dog smell the leash. Then clip it on your dog’s collar or body harness and let it go. Let him drag the dog leash around behind it and eventually, he will get used to having a leash attached to its collar. Again, each time he chews on the leash, correct it immediately. Once your dog is comfortable having the leash attached to its collar, it's time for you to pick up the leash. Simply hold the leash and have your dog close by.
This isn't a lesson in walking on the leash, it is simply a way to get your dog used to you holding the other end of the leash. If your pup starts to pull or struggle at the end of the leash, let it go and pick it up again in a few minutes.
It takes a few rounds of practice, but each dog is different. Some will learn faster than others. Set aside time for these practice sessions, about 10 minutes for each session, 2 to 3 times daily.
2. Don’t let your dog pull on the leash
One of the most common responses we have to a dog pulling on the leash is to pull back. Dogs have an opposition reflex, meaning that if you pull on their leash, they will pull back. For small breeds, all that pressure from the pulling can be hard on their throat if the leash is attached to the collar. Training is often necessary to stop your dog from pulling on the leash but if you already have a determined puller, especially if your dog is of a small breed with a delicate neck, switch to a dog harness. Clip the leash unto his dog harness instead of his collar.
The FREEDOM No-Pull Harness & Leash For Dogs is highly recommended for dogs on training. This no-pull dog harness comes with an optional training leash that allows you to connect to the front and back of the harness simultaneously to discourage pulling.
3. Do be alert and maintain control
Always maintain control of your dog during walks. Keep the leash short and your dog close to you when you are around other dogs or people. Be aware of your surrounding traffic – humans, bicycles, and others.
It is fine to peek or have a glance at your mobile phones during walks but please do not walk a dog with your nose buried in your phone! Stay alert and notice potential distractions (like cats, birds, and other dogs). Acting before your dog notices the distraction, like crossing the street to avoid the distraction, may help to minimise any unwanted reaction.
If you are walking in a park with lots of children, be aware that some young kids may not know how to approach a dog properly. It is not uncommon to see a group of children rushing toward a dog hoping to touch the dog. If your dog hasn’t been well-socialized and trained on how to properly meet other dogs and people (especially children), kindly tell people who try to approach your dog that they shouldn't. It's not rude and is for their safety.
4. Do carry poop bags
Be a responsible and considerate doggy parent and pick up after your pooch! Stash a few eco-friendly doggy poop bags in your pocket before walking out the door. The Clean Conscience Compostable Doggy Poop Bags are made from corn and are 100% Compostable. These poop bags are Certified ASTM D6400 by BPI (Biodegradable Products Institute), making them the only certified biodegradable/ compostable doggy poop bags in Singapore!
5. Do let your dog sniff around for mental stimulation
We emphasize our sense of sight, but our dogs see the world through their noses. Smell is the primary way they experience the world. Compared to our human five or six million scent receptors in our noses, our pups have up to 300 million scent receptors, depending on the breed. Just as we want to look around to take in the scenery, they want to sniff around to take in their environment.
How many times have you seen a dog owner who wants to hurry along and prevents their dogs from stopping and sniffing around? This prevents the dog from truly taking in the environment and diminishes the mental stimulation a walk can provide. Allow your dog some sniffing time during walks.
Understandably, most of us have a schedule to keep. So, how much time is enough time? Some dog behaviorist experts recommend keeping your pup walking for 70% of the time and giving him the remaining 30% to sniff and explore the environment.
6. Don’t walk on hot pavement
In our hot Singapore weather, the pavement heats up quickly and gets even hotter than the air surrounding it. The hot grounds can potentially cause burns to your dog’s paw pads and this is especially damaging to puppies with sensitive young paws. The best time to walk your dog are early mornings and evenings when the temperature is cooler.
Our pups will still need their exercises and on hot days when walking is not recommended, the alternative is to walk on grass or soil. These surfaces do not heat up as much as the hard pavement and are typically safer to walk on. Consider going to the park, a nearby dog run, or playing in a grassy yard on very hot days. With larger dogs, it is important to remember that physical exertion can bring risks of heatstroke, so consider your dog's health concerns. Bring along a pet water bottle to keep your pup hydrated. The Pidan Travel Bottle For Cats & Dogs (Green) comes with a 60mm depth wide-angle cup allowing your pet to drink more easily during walks!
The FuzzYard Cooling Bandana For Cats & Dogs is not just fashionable, but an excellent cooling aid that uses the best crystal polymer technology to help your dog keep cool. Soak the eco-friendly bandana in water for 10 minutes to expand the crystals and become icy cold. Remove excess water and tie the bandana around your pet’s neck to help lower his body temperature. When the cooling effects wear off, soak the bandana in the water again and reuse it.
The daily walk is meant to be a fun time. Walks are to stimulate, provide exercise and create bonding between you and your dog. We hope these walking tips will help you avoid some common "dog walking" mistakes, making your daily walks with your pups more enjoyable.
Katherine is a Pet Nutrition Specialist and GDP’s Pet Wellness Advisor. She is committed to helping pet owners make informed dietary and lifestyle choices in nurturing healthy pets. Katherine is also a practicing Nutritional Therapist (human nutrition) and has been helping hundreds of clients to heal naturally with nutrients.