Walk Your Dog: The How-to’s, Why’s and When’s of Walking Your Pet
Our pets have had to trade-off a lot more than their freedom to be our companions. Our homes got smaller, and their space got limited; our societies put down rules for pet-keeping, and they were put on a leash; our calendars got busier and they had to settle for packaged food and a 15-minute walk. But man’s best friends that they are, they’ve adjusted their lives to our comfort & convenience. The day we decided to take dogs as pets, we stole their independence and made them completely dependent on us for life choices. From food to exercise, our pets rely on us for making the right choice. It’s only fair for us, thus, to do what’s best for them.
The walk is the favorite part of your dog’s day! You know how excited your pet gets even when they hear the words ‘Let’s go’ or ‘walk’. Stepping in the world outside stimulates all their senses. Smells, sounds, textures, visuals, all offering activity to their mind that would otherwise be idle all day. Walks also help them socialize, meet new members of their kind, others and humans. It also allows them to do what they would likely be doing all day in the wild! Dawgies love physical activity.
On the other side of things, a walk can help your dog burn the calories he’s taking in and avoid obesity, the foundation of all illnesses. It can also help your pet ward off anxiety or stress. Walking definitely helps build their confidence and makes them more social. It puts down a routine and some discipline in your pet’s life. If you’ve been wanting to strengthen the bond you two share, a walk together can help develop a better connection.
Any responsible pet-parent would want to provide the best for their kids. But sadly, there are a lot of pet owners who do not walk their dog or don’t do so routinely. While the reasons could range from pure laziness to scarcity of time to behavioral problems with the pet, every dawgie deserves walks!
A trainer could help leash train your dog if they pull on the leash or walk you instead. Read our article on how to choose the right trainer for you.
In this article, we’ve put down the basics of walking your dog, how to prepare him, what should be an ideal walking routine, aftercare and more.
When and How to begin Walking your Dog
The best age to start walking your dog is when they are still a puppy. However, puppies are also at high risk of contracting communicable diseases. Consult your vet for when it’s safe for them to venture out, and begin walking them from then.
Before you head out of your home, you will need to get your pet used to certain dynamics of the walk. Begin with putting a collar with a name tag on them. Ensure that the tag has updated information and do not ever let them outdoor without the tag on. Some pets may have no problem wearing a collar, but certain puppies may resist it initially. Make them wear the collar indoors, it should take them no more than a couple of days to get used to having one on.
When you take your pet out walking, you will need to have a leash on them. Being leashed is another aspect you will have to get them used to. If you haven’t leash trained your pet, it is a possibility that they may pull on the leash when you take them out on one.
In order to avoid injury from a collar-leash combination, consider opting for a harness or head halter until the pulling is under control. As with the collar, put the harness and leash on them indoors first and let them roam around with the leash on (under your watch). They’ll get used to the feeling of being on a leash, the tug of it if they pull or step on it, etc.
Once your pet is comfortable wearing a collar and harness and has experienced the leash for a few days you can head outdoors.
Introducing Your Pet to Walks
Once you both are geared up to step outdoors, here’s how you can introduce them to their walks. Let the first few walks be of shorter durations, about 15 minutes. Find a safe environment; a garden or park serves best. Choose a time when there wouldn’t be a lot of other pets or children around for the introductory phase.
The next thing you have to teach them is to stay with you during the walk, and not run away too fast or slack while walking. You can begin by letting them lead you for a few seconds, and then stopping and calling them to you. They should be able to realize you’ve stopped when they tug against the leash. Call them to you at this point. Give them a treat or praise for obeying. If they refuse to return, give the leash a light pull in your direction. The purpose of this exercise is to establish the tension against the leash as unpleasant and staying with you as praiseworthy.
2-3 days into your routine, your pup should get the hang of what is expected out of him. Keep them free to meet other pets or people during the walk, unless they display aggression. Take time out during this session for some liberal praise and play.
Gradually increase the duration of your walks.
Cleaning after Daily Walks
Dogs can bring a lot of germs and bacteria back into the home from their walk, not to forget the more noticeable mud and dirt. Cleaning up after a walk is extremely important and should never be skipped. It will avoid illness for both, you and your pet. However, you do not need to go through an intense bath routine every day. Here’s a simpler, highly effective way to ensure your dawgie is sparkling again and ready to hop into bed and cuddle!
Have a Rubber Mat and Towel by the Door
Clean off your dog’s paws at the door itself. Wipe the feet with a clean & dry towel to take away excess moisture and dirt. A rubber mat will help prevent any wet slip falls. This will also avoid trails of muddy paws throughout your home.
Remove Noticeable Debris
You may want to take off any twigs or debris stuck in their paws or tangled in the fur. Once you do that, brush them thoroughly to get rid of the dirt. Most dogs love brushing, so this will be fun.
Use Pet Wipes
Start wiping from around the mouth and face and work your way towards to back. Also, wipe the genitals to remove any residual urine or feces.
If the wet wipes weren’t able to clean completely, spray in spots a mixture of water and apple cider vinegar. Use a cloth dipped in this mixture to clean him thoroughly. This could be particularly helpful when your dawgie is wet. Dry him with a clean dry towel after!
You may have to vary your time, duration and location of walks as per the weather or season. It’s very important to ensure your pet is healthy and makes the positive most out of their walks.
- Time your walks before 9 am and after 6 pm, so you avoid peak sun hours and a possible sunstroke.
- Find a shaded area for walks, like the tree-lined side of the street. It won’t have direct sunlight and the ground will possibly be cooler. This will differ as per the time of the day you choose.
- Choose to walk on a grassy path or soil (soft ground). Concrete, tiles, and asphalt tend to overheat during summers. A good way to judge if the surface is too hot is to take the 5-second test. Touch the floor yourself and see if you can keep your hand on it for 5 seconds straight. If you can’t, it’s too hot for your dawgie too.
- Keep your pace slow. Your regular walks may be speedy, but keep your pace in check during the summers. Let summer walks be more leisurely strolls.
- Carry water with you, and take breaks to hydrate, catch your breath, and just relax for a bit during the walks.
- Be extra careful if you have a short-snouted dog, like Pugs, Mastiffs, Bulldogs, Boxers, etc. Their pinched nostrils and narrow windpipes make it difficult for them to cool themselves from panting. Dogs with a thicker coat like Huskies and St. Bernards also require special care.
- Avoid going out when it is pouring.
- Choose to walk in areas that do not have puddles of dirty muddy water.
- Always have a dawgie raincoat and boots at hand when you step out, even if it isn’t raining at the moment.
- Rigorously follow the post-walk clean-up routine mentioned above.
- Check their ears and coat often for ticks or tick eggs.
- Put a reflective collar on your pet so they are visible to commuters even in fog and mist.
- Massage petroleum jelly on their paws before you go out, and apply moisturizer after you clean and dry them.
- Get a dawgie coat made with a breathable fabric that won’t irritate your pet. More so, if your dog does not have a naturally thick winter coat.
Scoop the Poop
Cleaning up after your pet is for sure one of the least pleasant aspects of being a pet-parent. It is understandable why some pet-parents would try to avoid it. But not scooping your dawgie’s poop is not just rude and unhygienic, it’s also a potential threat to your pet’s and your own health.
Your dawgie’s poop may contain bacteria and other toxins that may be harmful to humans, especially so if he’s been feeding on a processed packaged diet. This poop, if not disposed off properly, can get washed into water bodies and contaminate the water. So it is essential you clean up after them. It’s also a very unpleasant feeling to accidentally step on poop. Cleaning up can make your stay in the society with your pet convenient too. It’s always a kind action.
If your dog poops outside, consider having the job done on grass or mud. After they have relieved themselves, use a poop waste bag or thick plastic bag to entrap the feces and tie the open end before dumping it in the waste bin. Ensure your bag doesn’t have any kind of holes or punctures. You can buy poop disposal bags online or at a pet store near you.
In case there are no grassy areas and your dog happens to poop on another type of surface (like asphalt or concrete), use a poop bag as mentioned above and then wash down the surface with water to avoid anyone coming in contact with it.
If you see your pet’s poop lingering on him, giving him a bath is a good idea. Use warm water and dog shampoo. You can wear gloves for additional precaution. Warm water and soap will be able to kill all bacteria.
Healthy, well-fed dogs make healthy, firm stools that can be cleaned easily and are safer for you to clean too. If your dog is feeding on a contaminated processed commercial diet, it’s a no brainer that his poop will be contaminated too. A high-quality real diet can help maintain your pet’s poop-health and overall well-being.
Dog Walkers: Yay or Nay?
Walking your pet is one of the core responsibilities of every pet parent. However, if you’re unusually busy or think you can’t dedicate enough time for an appropriate walk, hire a professional dog walker. Dog walkers are commonly available around residential societies in many cities these days.
But it’s important to ensure that your walker actually walks your dog. Incidents have been cited where the dog walkers take multiple dogs at once, or while away their time at a tea stall at the corner of the street – while your dog waits on them to finish. Be sure to conduct due diligence before hiring a dog walker. Take feedback from his current customers and conduct routine surprise checks to ensure that they treat your pet well, and actually walk them for the duration they commit. It’s important to ensure that your pet gets the desired walk, and you get the bang out of your buck.
Walking your pet is one of the most important responsibilities of a being a pet-parent. We’ve already established how essential it is for your pet, and for your relationship with your pet. Whether you have a puppy or a senior dog, walking is good for all. However, if your darling suffers from a medical condition, check with your vet if it’s appropriate for them to walk. Most pets love walks, and most pet-parents too.
Got stories from your dog’s walking routine? Share them in the comments below.
FOR INFORMATION ONLY – NOT VETERINARY CARE
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