When it comes to walking with our dogs, there is nothing better for both the physical and mental health of our pets and ourselves; especially if you work your dog at the same time.
Be a Responsible Dog Walker
One Sunday night I was walking with my mother and my sister's dog Gomez. Something happened while we were walking that reminded me that not everyone walking their dogs out in the real world is knowledgeable or responsible, or maybe they just do not care. It is the same exact thing when we learn to drive; we have to be in full control of a car when driving. It is up to you, and only you, to be totally responsible for yourself and your dog. You also need to be prepared for any other dog or anything else you may come in contact with.
There we were out walking at 7:00 p.m. It was twilight (not too dark, not quite daylight), so we had a flashlight and light color clothing on, and Gomez had a reflector collar and leash on. We were well into our walk when my mother decided to hand me back the dog with praise for the training I've done with him. Right as my mother handed Gomez back, out of nowhere came a woman with a huge, and I mean huge, 195-pound Mastiff. She came to about three feet in front of us with her dog barking and growling, and she kept yelling to me and my mother, "He is very friendly off leash."
Training Creates Safer Situations
I calmly put Gomez into a very fast heel and quickly but very calmly crossed the street. My poor mother was beyond scared but understood exactly what I was doing. Mom is well versed from riding horses to know that we were taking action fast, and we would talk later. Once we were safely across the street, my mother then felt she needed to tell this woman a bit about safety and walking dogs. The simple fact is, no matter how friendly your own dog is, we never know what kind of mood our dogs will display. This is especially so in a situation where they, too, may be startled, and we do not know the full activities of the other dog's day.
My mother has a new found respect for what I do now, and she has shared this with anyone who will listen. In one way, this is great for me and Gomez because I know now that he is a great boy in the heat of the moment. This is a far cry from "old" Gomez who would have taken the choke chain or pinch collar (both of which he is no longer walked with) and ripped them out of your hand to get into a fight. Today he is walked with a simple collar and a six-foot training leash on my left side. If anyone else walks him, they must do the same, use the same key words which are posted up in his room, and we do not let more than two days go by without training and walking together. My sister has done a wonderful job at keeping up with the program. She is the one to walk him three times a day, and then he gets playtime in the back yard.
Dog Walking Safety Tips
There are many different leash styles, and they are designed for different purposes. You really need to stop and think about what you are going to do with your dog and what you really need to keep you and your dog safe. Here are my dog walking safety tips:
- Plan out where you are going to go on your walk. Do they allow dogs, or is there a hefty fine if you and your dog are caught frolicking on the beach?
- Do you want to walk your dog on leash, or do you want to go on an outdoor hike like a trail where you can go off leash? Find out what the laws are where you live.
- Make sure you take plenty of your preferred pooper scoopers. If you are out for a long time, a dog can poop more than three times.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate; both of you must stay hydrated. Stop, rest, find shade for the both of you and drink. Bring a travel bowl unless you have trained your dogs to drink out of a bottle.
- Identification for the both of you is very important. Carry something on yourself and make sure your dog's tags are up to date. If you can afford it, why not micro-chip your dog. It is painless and could really save a life.
- When walking your dog, the ground you walk on makes a huge difference. Plan with a mission. If you are going to play ball, you know the concrete is going to tear up the pads of his paws. If you are going on an outdoor trail, be prepared for fleas and ticks. Plan ahead, and you both will have the time of your life.
- Make sure whichever type of leash you pick is always clean with no missing parts and that it works properly.
- Always make sure your dog's collar fits properly.