With Dog In Tow
It is a simple truism. Dogs need exercise. Some require more, others less. A responsible dog owner knows this and incorporates it into his or her lifestyle. It really is a simple thing to do. It requires establishing a routine. However, before you go gung ho, you do need to look at certain factors. These will help make dog walking a pleasure rather than a chore.
Age, Breed and Condition
Before getting your dog - puppy, middle-aged or senior, ready for a walk, stop and consider what is best. You need to consider a variety of factors that form part of the walk experience. These include:
- Age – the demands of a senior are les than those of a puppy or an adult dog
- Health - Unwell canines need to be treated with care. Talk to your vet
- Weight - Obese or “pleasantly plump" dogs may not be able to “go the distance” for their age or breed
- Breed - Some dogs are made for walking. They are high energy and demanding. Jack Russell Terriers spring to mind – and, yes, the pun is intentional. Others, such as bulldogs, may not need as much, particularly on days with higher temperatures.
- Weather - What is the temperature outside? Is it too hot or too cold? Does your dog love to walk in the rain? How does he or she feel about thunderstorms?
Talk to your vet or dog breeder if you have any doubts.
It does not matter where you are planning to take your dog for a walk. It could be once-around-the-block or for a long hike through the mountains. You need to consider certain items of equipment as essential. These include:
- A good collar and leash set. Avoid the restrictive chokers and related types of collars, especially on small breeds and those prone to windpipe and throat damage. Stop and think what it would feel like to have someone yanking on your throat all the time. If the dog is a puller, talk to a trainer, enrol in lessons or opt for alternative means of control – and no I certainly don’t mean anything electric or pronged.
- Think about a harness or a haltie/gentle leader for walking.
- Make sure your dog has his or her ID tags firmly attached
- Choose a good leash. Be careful with the extendable ones and the cheap makes. The material may hold but the clasp may snap, come loose or cease to function at entirely the wrong time.
For longer walks and those made in warm weather, you need to bring other items. These include a bottle of water, a dish, margarine container or anything else to hold the water your dog requires. You can find collapsible dishes that pack easily. You can also consider alternatives. Some dogs drink easily out of a squirt water bottle. They are easily carried and can be refilled.
A couple of other things are never remiss. Bring dog snacks to distract and reward. Balls, Frisbees and other similar things are perfect for those games of fetch or chase. Just be sure it will not lead to arguments with other dogs.
What you do NOT bring, or at least have on, is your cell phone, Blackberry or similar device. It is ONLY for emergencies. You are here to spend quality time with your dog. Talking on the phone or ignoring your dog while you are listening to music can result in situations that could turn a pleasant walk deadly.
Once you have the basic equipment in hand and know how much exercise your dog requires, consider the aim. Where do you plan to walk? Fortunately, there are options. This makes it more fun for you as well as your dog. You do not need to walk the same trail, path, park, etc. every single day. You can vary, even if it is only on weekends. Just be sure you know the rules of the area. These include:
- To leash or not to leash
- Cleaning up
- Wildlife - what kinds, how close and how dangerous
- Do understand written and unwritten park etiquette
- Where you can and cannot walk your dog
This requires a little bit of research. You can go on net. There is a lot of information online about different parks and other areas you can explore. Phone the local government information centres and find out about shared parks, doggy parks and other dog-friendly areas. Often the best source is other dog owners. Don’t be afraid to ask them their opinion – after you have complimented them on how cute, regal, intelligent, well-behaved, etc. their dog is.
Walking the dog is and should always be enjoyable for you and your best friend. Try to make it a fun experience. A well-walked dog is one too content (and maybe too tired) to get into mischief. Abandon the electronic gadgets and enjoy nature with your dog and conversation with other dog owners. It is healthy for both you and your pet. Plan it right and you will find the two of you will look forward to it every single day.
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