Dog walking safety – Part 1

Who’s walking whom?

1. Before you hit the streets with your dog, he should know and obey the basic commands, SIT, WALK, HEEL, and STAY. An unruly, uncontrollable dog can be dangerous to you, other pedestrians, and possibly even drivers. However, walking a well-trained dog can be a very pleasant experience and a wonderful source of exercise.

2. Always use a collar and leash. Even if your dog is extremely quiet and well-behaved, a collar and leash are essential. For a challenging dog, a halter-harness or a choke-chain collar may provide extra control. Retractable leashes allow dog walkers to adjust the length of the lead. These are available in many sizes and even with built-in flashlights for night walking.

3. Register your dog, and place identification on him before you take him off your own property. Identification tags are available through the mail, online, and at pet supply stores. Rabies tags also provide a serial number that identifies your pet. Tattooing and microchip implants are additional options.

4. Respect local regulations for dog walking. Some communities offer special areas for pet exercise. Others may not allow dogs in certain areas. Many parks and recreation areas do not allow dogs. Check with your local community government, if you are not sure.

5. Pick up after your pooch. Carry a supply of plastic baggies in your pocket. Invert the bag over your hand, so you can pick up your dog’s droppings without touching anything directly. Seal the bag, and toss it in a trash receptacle.

6. Provide water (for yourself and your dog), if you take a lengthy walk. Dogs may choose to drink from puddles and ponds, but this warrants caution. Excessive pollution, fertilizer, or other unexpected additives may harm a dog.

7. Stay out of traffic. Dogs thrive in fresh air, as we do. Scenic trails provide excellent exposure and a wonderful atmosphere for you and your dog. If you must walk in an urban area, try to stay on sidewalks and trails.

8. After dark, try to stay in safe, well-supervised areas. Look for well-lit walking routes at night. Women, in particularly, need to be wary of strangers and dark areas when walking alone, even with a dog.

9. In cold weather, allow the dog’s winter coat to grow in more than usual. Well-groomed dogs can be lovely, but a short haircut will not keep him warm. If you must clip the dog in the winter, consider purchasing a fitted blanket, sweater or jacket for him. These are available at per supply stores and online.

10. Do not allow your dog to play on a frozen lake or pond, unless you are sure it is solid enough to bear his weight (and yours, if you should have to fetch him).

11. In hot weather, allow the dog to rest in the shade periodically. Canines do not perspire, as humans do. They can only cool themselves off by panting, drinking water, swimming, and being in the shade.

12. Allow room for exercise. Try to find a place where you can allow the dog to run free for a bit. Toss a Frisbee, a tennis ball, or a stick for him to fetch and return. Having fun together is good for both of you!

Walking with your dog is wonderful exercise. It helps to strengthen the bond between you and your canine companion, and it keeps you both healthy. Enjoy the walk!

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