by Nancy Hassel, ThisFurryLife.com
The weather across the country the last week has been amazing, spring in February in many places. And if you are like me, you took advantage of it and went on many walks with your dog. We can walk our dogs more often now and not worry about slipping and falling on the ice or climbing over huge snow piles. This past week especially I have personally seen a lot more dogs being walked than I have throughout the winter. But I have also noticed many dog owners seem to forget the basics of walking their dog, how to greet another dog at a park or get their spring fever pup under control. It happens to all of us – dogs get excited about the warmer weather just as much as we do!
Here are a few dog walking tips to help you enjoy you spring walks with your pup, for both new and old dog owners alike:
Proper leashes and collars – The best leash is a 6-foot cotton or leather leash; which come in different widths and styles for your type and size of dog. Retractable leashes do not give you any control of your dog or dogs and can cause injury to people and dogs alike. Most county and state parks require your dog to be on a 6-foot leash by law, check your county/state park websites. Your dog should have a flat collar with ID, and if you are using a training collar to walk your dog, be sure to get it fitted properly by a professional dog trainer. Most big box pet stores selling choke, prong, no pull-harnesses, head halters and other training apparatus do not fit your dog (or know how to) and may sell you wrong size for your dog. (Or you are just on your own in the store trying to figure it out!) Smaller mom & pop pet stores or dog training facilities will have a better idea what to sell you and help you fit your dog in the store.
Greeting another person with a dog – ASK! Can your dog say hello? Is your dog friendly?Many dog owners inadvertently just walk up to another dog owner without asking if their dog is friendly or can say hello. While most dogs are friendly and social with other dogs, not all dogs are dog friendly. Maybe their dog was attacked before and is now terrified of dogs (or the owner is terrified), or maybe the dog is dog aggressive – and now you’re wandering over to the dog without asking. Maybe they are just working on training techniques or just beginning to socialize their dog. Ask! And don’t be offended if their dog can’t say hello to yours.
Watching other people’s body language – Did a dog owner you were approaching just cross the street with their dog? (Maybe to avoid you and your dog). Are they pulling their dog closer into them, putting the dog into a “heel” position? Walking closer to the side of the trail at the park to give you more room to pass by? These could be very easy body language signals that you can look out for – for tell ‘tail’ signs that they don’t want to or cannot greet your dog with theirs. Pay attention! Pull you dog closer to you if you see this happening, and for dog’s sake don’t cross the street for your dog to say ‘hi’ after the person just crossed to get away from you and your dog! Again, not all dogs are dog friendly – but those dog owners have the right to enjoy a dog walk in the park just as much as you do.
Don’t over do it the first walk out there, if you have only been walking your dog 10 minutes for the past 5 months, gradually get your dog back into a walking routine. Increase your time and distance a little each day and before you know you and your dog could be walking a few miles a day. A tired dog is a good dog!
Off Leash parks – are popping up across the country, so there is no need to let you’re dog run loose and out of control where you’re not supposed to because you think he should be free. An easy rule of thumb to remember is if you can not verbally control your dog off leash, i.e. having the dog ‘come’ on command or recall your dog to you. Your dog should not be running off leash where they are not supposed to! Go to an off-leash enclosed dog park if you want your dog to run around. Be sure to monitor your dog at all times and leave if you feel uncomfortable at the dog park.
Walking in your town of village – If your dog is out 20-feet ahead of you on a retractable leash and you’re walking through a village of busy town – pull that dog in! If you see another person coming towards you with a dog or children, retract your dog in to walk next to you – how do you know that person’s dog is dog friendly or if the person is dog savvy? Some kids are really scared of dogs, so don’t let your dog jump up or run up to a child.
Kids – Parents please teach your children to ask to pet a dog, not to run up to a dog (a bunch of charging children can be very scary to a dog that is not used to it!), and monitor your children around all pets at all times. If you are teaching your child how to walk the family dog – this is a great idea, just be sure to have control of the situation. Many times I have seen a kid holding the leash and running with the dog – it may look cute and seem fun, but if that dog decides to run after something or up to an unfriendly dog, it won’t be so cute anymore. So just make sure you are controlling the situation as the parent, aunt, uncle, guardian, etc. You want to have fun while out with your kids and dog and educate them at the same time about dog safety.
What is your favorite thing about being out and about with your dog in this beautiful weather? Let us know in the comment section! Happy dog adventures!