Dog Walking Tips Every Owner Should Know

Dog out for a walk on street corner with people

Was the idea of walking a dog what prompted you to become a dog owner? Dogs certainly do need exercise in their daily routine. People need exercise, too, and many people love being outdoors, so adopting a dog to take for walks makes a lot of sense.

Walking together with your pet can become a terrific pastime that takes you into new and interesting places. Owning a dog might even become a great opportunity for getting to know your neighbours or meeting other new and interesting people.

Dogs tend to break the ice, making it easy to enter into conversation with perfect strangers.

Girl and dog running in park
Walking your dog not only helps him, it helps your well being too!

Develop a Routine

When you first bring your new dog home, it will be helpful to plan a bit of a routine for eating, sleeping, toileting and exercise. A dog will settle in easier with a fairly predictable schedule.

Especially if your dog is young or energetic, it will demand daily exercise. For this reason, it’s important only to adopt a dog if someone in your family will be committed to walking or exercising it frequently.

Do a Safety Walk

Many newly adopted dogs have been pent up in kennels for a period of time prior to adoption and experience has shown that, in the early days, a newly adopted dog may try to bolt out a door if given the chance. It’s just logical that a dog would want a chance to run free after being cooped up for days.

A dog that does get loose will be more likely to make its way back home if it has been familiarized with the neighbourhood. Leash walk your new dog around your neighbourhood as soon as possible to acquaint it with the area.

The Need for Exercise

Ideally, you have a fenced-in back yard for your dog to use. Most (see real time dogs for adoption near you here: adoption centers also allow apartment dwellers and homeowners without a fenced-in space to adopt dogs as well. Many of these owners are quite vigilant about exercising their dogs in order to compensate for not having an enclosed space of their own.

No matter how much space there is or isn’t available, exercising a dog is part of the commitment you will make when becoming a dog owner.

There are many breeds that demand opportunities to release great amounts of energy. Many dogs thrive on being able to have fast spurts of running. Many crave games of fetch and long healthy walks. An exercised dog is a happy dog. One that doesn’t get its energy out may be more prone to act up in a way of letting its owner know of its needs.

Man Walking Dogs
Find a dog friendly park, but always be in control of your dog..

The Need For Wide-Open Spaces

Many communities have responded to a dog’s need for safe wide-open spaces by creating dog parks. These areas are designed as leash-free running areas where dogs can run at full speed, interact and play with other dogs, or play fetch with their master.

When introducing a new dog to a dog park, choose a well fenced-in dog park only, unless or until you’re certain your dog will obey you and not run off. Always assess the size and behaviour of other dogs in the park to ensure the safety of your pet, and keep a watchful eye on the activity that ensues.

Dog Park Alternatives

If you can’t find a dog park that is safe for your dog and you want it to be able to run free, you might look for an available grass-bottomed outdoor arena to use. A gated tennis court might also be helpful.

Regardless of whether you use dog parks or alternatives, do commit to walking your dog on leash as often as possible too. Dogs become familiar with a favourite route, enjoying new scents each time. Most dogs crave a change of scenery too, so try walking a few different routes, or drive to a new part of town and walk in a different neighbourhood for a brand new adventure.

Please see our artile on Dog Park Etiquette here.

Dog with common dog water bottle found at pet stores
Keep your pup hydrated in summer. In winter, especially for short haired dogs, invest in a dog sweater or jacket. Enjoy on the walk, regardless of the outside elements.

Other Precautions

Take a bottle of water with you on walks to keep your dog refreshed. If you’re fortunate, your dog will drink right from the bottle. Otherwise, bring a small dish along. There are also many unique products available at your pet store to try.

Be cautious of walking your dog in excessive heat or below freezing temperatures. A high of 25 C and a low of minus 25 C are high-risk temperatures for most dogs. They can overheat or become frostbit quickly.

Be a Good Neighbour

Always have dog refuse bags with you no matter where take your dog. While you can use shopping bags, bread bags, etc., you will find bags made especially for pet waste are thicker and safer for the handler. They are also safer for the environment if they are biodegradable.

Father and son in taking dog for a walk on suburb street
Be respectful of your neighboors when out for a walk. Your children will learn the same courtesy by your example. You'll be surprised how many people begin to say "hi", a benefit to both you and socializing your dog.

Do try to keep your dog from toileting on neighbours’ properties. Some dogs like to urinate to mark spots throughout a walk. The urine of some dogs will wreak havoc on grass, turning it yellow and killing it. Choose to walk your dog where there is plenty of city property, park space or undeveloped land rather than angering your neighbours.

Make a List

Of course, it’s always important that you are well prepared with all you’ll need for a walk before leaving home or getting into your car for a trip to the park. You should dress well for the weather and conditions, keeping in mind you may need a hat, gloves or boots.

You might also want to create a checklist that you hang near your door, as a quick reminder of what to take.

This might seem like overkill, after all it's just a walk with your dog.

These suggestions will become routine in no time. Look at it this way-- your dog is part of the family but can't easily comunicate with a stranger in an emergency situation. you can be prepared that you and your dog do not become separated.

Is your dog microchipped? If not, please consider doing it immediatly! Why? Please see The Value of a Microchip

Here are a few suggestions:

  1. A leash
  2. Refuse bags (take two more than you think you need)
  3. Tissue
  4. Keys
  5. Cell phone
  6. Dog toys
  7. Dog treats- excellent for training practice in a new environment outside your home
  8. ID tags for your dog- many cities will fine without propper tags on your dogs collar
  9. ID for yourself
  10. Propper attire for your dog- If your city salts streets in winter- consider booties to protect delicate paws. Short haired dogs- consider a dog coat or sweater. If your're wearing a parka, pup might need a little extra warmth too
  11. Water- for you and your four legged friend, especially if your on a hike or long trail
  12. If you're camping or out of the city or suburbs or don't have a cell, throw some change in a pokect to make a call from a payphone if needed.

Exercise is key for keeping your dog happy and for developing a close bond with it. Make walks part of your regular routine together. Always err on the side of safety, and make sure you’re well-equipped for the environment. You’ll know you’ve done it right when you find your dog behaving well and happily at rest later.

Read more about other dog walking advice and strategies:

  • If you work long hours you might consider hiring a dog walker: Choosing a Dog Walker
  • Confused by the 70 foot asile of collars and leashes at your local pet shop? Learn the different types of collars and leashes to choose what's best for you dog here.

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