Dogs aren't just a man's best friend; they're a walker’s perfect companion. Dog walking is one of the healthiest hobbies you can get into and before long you may even realise that your dog is the boss of your walking program! However, it is important that you ensure your dog remains healthy and safe during a long walk. Follow this guide and both you and your pet pooch will get the most out of your walks together.
Choose a dog friendly route/event
If you are unfamiliar with the route you intend to walk then it is always a good idea to check if it is suitable for your dog beforehand. Either researching it on the internet or walking it without your dog first is the best way. Some routes may involve inclines that are too steep for your dog, others may be too near to sheep. If you’re intending to bring your dog to an organised walking event then you should always check ahead with organisers that they are allowed.
Ensure your dog has identification
If the worst case scenario does happen and you lose your beloved pooch then it is essential that they have identification so they can be safely returned to you. This should include your address, phone number and the pet's name so whoever finds it can familiarise themselves with your dog. Sometimes the person who finds it won't be able to bring it straight to you and may have to look after it in the meantime.
Recognise your dog's limits
There are so many breeds of dog that come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. If you have a small dog then it may struggle to walk the long distances that larger dogs can achieve. The last thing you need when you're tired after a long walk is having to carry the extra weight of your exhausted dog.
Likewise, you should also recognise how well trained your dog is. Make sure they are well behaved enough to handle being let off a lead in wide open spaces.
Use a lead that suits your dog
There are a variety of leads which can be used when walking your dog. Choke chains and prong/pinch collars are quite controversial as they can cause injury to your dog. Seek advice from a vet or dog trainer before using this type of equipment.
If your dog is always pulling on their lead then there are alternatives to using the aforementioned types of leash. A harness will ensure you have a greater control over your dog without risking injury. You could also use a retractable lead, which allows your dog more space to roam while allowing you to reel them in if needed.
Clean up after your dog
Any responsible dog owner should always clean up after their pet. A pooper scooper is the least unpleasant method for cleaning up mess, but if you don't own one then you can use plastic bags. Place the bag over your hand, pick up the poo, then turn the bag inside out and tie the end closed before disposing of it in a dog waste bin. Zip closure sandwich bags are another option; they don’t require tying up at the end.
Any walker needs to stay hydrated on long treks, and your dog is no different. Particularly on hot days it is important to carry enough water for both you and your canine friend. Packing a lightweight dog bowl is the best way to provide them with plenty of water.
Take rest breaks
If your dog is panting a lot or flagging behind then you should take a ten minute rest. Find a shady spot if impossible and give them water to rehydrate.
Never let your dog out of sight
No matter how well-trained your dog is and how much you trust them to not to get in any bother, you should never let it out of your sight. Just because your dog is well behaved doesn't mean what it might run into will be.
Most importantly… enjoy your dog’s company and have a great walk together.