Need-To-Know Info For Walking The Dog

Equipment, weather and your dog’s likes and dislikes are just some of the things to consider before walking your dog.

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When you walk your dog, be sure the surface you're on isn't too hot or cold for his paws by touching it with the back of your hand for a few seconds. If it's uncomfortable for you, it is for your dog, too. damedeeso/iStock/Thinkstock

My Collie Finney is not interested in leash walks or our usual daily, off-leash romps when the weather is bad. During winter, he has perfected the No. 3.

What is the No. 3, you ask? That means hold it until you can’t hold it any longer, run outside and pee and poop at the same time, then run back inside.

Pay Attention To Your Dog’s Walking Preferences

I bring up my wonderful Finney for a few reasons. The main one is that we need to listen to our dogs and help support them in their likes and dislikes. In his younger days, Finn used to stay outside all day, in any weather, with my kids. He was my buddy walking the neighborhood at all hours and in all weather.

These days… not so much. We bought him a fleece-lined coat and an adorable blue snowflake sweater, and he is happy wearing one or both together snuggled up next to the space heater during winter.

So, how much leash walking do our dogs need?

That totally depends on the dogs and, to some degree, our schedules. We are, after all, human, and as humans we have time constraints. Most people will fit their dogs into their schedules, but there are some dogs, like my Beck, whose schedule I need to fit into.

What do I mean by that, you ask? Beck is worried by strangers and unknown dogs, so his walks happen at quieter neighborhood times and often in out-of-the-way places.

What To Wear While Dog Walking

Always leash your dogs on walks. I use a 6-foot leash most times. If we are walking in a downtown area, I often choose the 4-foot leash for ease of control. When we walk in a field or on the wooded trails, I have a longer line that gives the dogs more freedom.

How you attach your leash to your dog is another consideration. I am a harness convert, but as with everything, not all harnesses are created equal. Look for a dog a harness that fits comfortably while freeing up your pet’s shoulder blades. My new harness does not constrict across my dog’s chest, and his movement is freer and safer.

Here is a trainer tip. Most dogs can do a Houdini move and back out of most harnesses and some collars. To prevent this, use a carabiner clip to attach the harness to your dog’s collar. This is not foolproof, but it does add one more piece of security. Be sure to check your equipment often, as harnesses and collars tend to loosen up over time.

No matter how careful we are, accidents can still happen. Please be sure to microchip your dog and register the chip. All dogs should wear ID tags, as well.

Dog Boots

Dogs wear boots for a variety of reasons. Dogs can benefit from boots if the sidewalk is too hot, too cold or surfaces are too slippery. Many city dogs wear boots to protect them from broken glass. Boots can protect feet from ice or rock salt, and extreme cold. If you buy dog boots, be sure to take time to positively condition your dog to wearing them. If dog boots aren’t used, some dog breeds benefit from having the fur between their toes trimmed to minimize ice balls developing on their paws.

Walking Dogs In Summer And Winter

The saying, “If it is too hot for you, it is too hot for them,” or “If it is too cold for you, it is too cold for them,” applies for all dog walking.

A few years back I walked in a Memorial Day parade, and one of the dogs we walked with burned all four pads on his feet. His feet were a lighter color and much more sensitive than my dogs’ feet. Rue had also not spent as much time walking on pavement as my dogs did. Poor Rue had to have special medicine and could not walk on anything but grass for close to a month. We all felt horrible about what happened. I bring up this story because it can happen to you, too, if you are not totally on top of things.

In the summer, care needs to be taken to not overdo any walks, and to provide your dog access to plenty of water.

Winter walks, if you take them, are mainly about not staying out too long and protecting your pet from the elements.

Walking Dogs In Spring And Fall

Spring and fall bring with them different challenges, although they are not nearly as uncomfortable for dogs. Mainly there are things to eat that were not there before. Things like poisonous plants and acorns and sticks.

Personally, my perfect day for dog walking has a temperature in the high 60s Fahrenheit. Those are the days that you will see me out and about, leash walking my dogs for extended periods of time. I love it! Dogs make great exercise buddies.

Final Tips For Dog Walking Success

Whatever the season or the reason you’re walking, be sure to take the cues from your dog. Bring plenty of water, be prepared to rest and, as in the case with Finney, be prepared to skip a walk if your pet doesn’t want to go.

If you plan to change the amount or type of your dog’s exercise, please check with your veterinarian and get your pet cleared first. Sometimes it’s not possible to tell that our dogs are sick or in pain just by looking at them. Finn got a full workup from the vet, and he has been cleared for whatever he wants to do.

And remember: When you head out for any walk, don’t forget the poop bags for when your dog goes!

Article Categories:
Behavior and Training · Dogs