Walk the Dog!
Treat your canine—and yourself—to daily excursions.
By Lisa King
No matter what type of purebred or mixed breed dog you own, chances are he’s not performing the duties he was bred for: herding sheep, chasing vermin into their burrows, tracking large game across open plains. Modern life offers few chances for dogs to do their intended work, so how can owners provide the exercise and stimulation their dogs need?
The answer is simple: Take your dog for a walk. A good long walk outside won’t do you any harm. Since October began with Walk Your Dog Week, now is a good time to resolve to walk your dog more regularly.
The frequency and duration of these walks depends on many things, such as your dog’s size, breed, health and age. A young Lab or Shepherd mix can handle much longer and more vigorous walks than an elderly Pug. Ask your veterinarian for guidance and pay attention to how tired your dog is getting. In general, a young athletic dog should be walked for 30 minutes to an hour once or twice a day, while a small lapdog can get plenty of exercise from a 20-minute walk. A dog who gets enough exercise is much less likely to exhibit nervous barking and destructive behavior around the house. Walk him at roughly the same time every day if possible.
Choose a secure collar and, if desired, a harness, plus a study nylon or leather leash. Walking in an urban area requires a shorter leash so you can prevent your dog from entangling other pedestrians, while walking in an open area allows you to use a longer leash. A retractable leash can work well for both these scenarios.
Before leaving the house, provide your dog with proper identification. A tag with the dog’s name and your phone number on it plus microchipping in case his collar is lost are the ideal combination.
To make the walk more pleasant for both of you, teach your dog to heal rather than drag you along behind. If your dog persists at pulling on the leash, try using a head halter, which redirects his efforts so he can’t pull you.
Find interesting places for the two of you to walk. Your dog will find plenty of interesting smells and sights in your neighborhood, but once in a while he should get to walk someplace new, such as a park, nature trail, lake or beach. Check first to make sure dogs are allowed at the location you plan to visit. If your destination is a dog park or dog beach, make sure your dog is comfortable around other dogs before venturing out.
Walks are when many dogs relieve themselves, especially if they’re apartment dwellers. Besides marking new and old territories with urine, they’re bound to defecate while on walks. Whether you’re on a mountain trail, on a city street or in your own front yard, pick up your dog’s solid waste and discard it appropriately. Carry some type of baggies with you on every walk.
If the walk will be a long one, bring water for both you and your dog, especially in hot weather. Collapsible bowls, soft foldable bowls, receptacles that clip onto human water bottles and many other types of drinking containers are available at pet supply stores. Bring along a pocket full of your dog’s favorite treats, too, to reward good behavior.
Having a dog and walking him regularly not only gives you both much-needed exercise, it facilitates bonding. Dogs look forward with great anticipation to their walks and to spending time exploring the world with their favorite human.
About the Author: Lisa King is a freelance writer living in Southern California. She is the former managing editor of Pet Product News International, Dogs USA and Natural Dog magazines. Lisa is also the author of the well-received murder mystery novel “Death in a Wine Dark Sea” and the recently released “Vulture au Vin.”
Dog Walking Etiquette
By Stacy Mantle
Walk Your Dog Each Day
In a world where many different species enjoy walking each day, it’s important to understand the rules of the road for canines. The rules below are not hard and fast, they aren’t legally binding and they aren’t meant to be regulated. They are intended as good “common sense” rules for any pets who enjoy walks.
1. Respect personal space. Whether you’re on a trailhead or at the dog park, there are people who will not love your dog. Even fellow dog lovers are hesitant around other breeds. Some small-breed lovers will be in complete fear of your large-breed dog no matter how friendly, and vice versa. Never force your dog on another person or animal.
Teach your pet to keep his nose to himself. People don’t generally like to be sniffed—particularly if they are running or walking or just enjoying the day. Keep your pet under control and never allow her to pull at the leash in search of a quick sniff of another dog or person.
2. Leashes are required. Besides being good common sense, leashes are required by law in nearly every state and that includes state and national forests. It doesn’t matter if your dog is friendly, it doesn’t matter if your dog always listens. If any other person views your pet as a threat, they can legally defend themselves, which can lead to tragic results.
Keep your leash short. This can help eliminate problems with tangled leashes, territorial sidewalk users and other such problems. The only exception to using a leash is in a designated off-leash area.
3. Clean up after your pet. You should not allow your pet to urinate or defecate in a person’s yard, a golf course or in a public park. Urine can leave ugly brown spots and create problems for a property owner. Look for a public, remote area for your pet to do her business. If an accident does happen, be courteous and clean up after your pet. It’s the law in most municipalities and it makes for good neighbors.
4. Not all dogs are friendly. You should never assume that because your pets are friendly, other people’s pets are friendly, too. Don’t allow your pet to approach other animals without an invitation. You never know how controlled the other animal may be.
5. Be respectful of other species. Cats are going out on walks more frequently, as are birds, ferrets and even other lesser-known and more unusual species. This is why you should never allow or encourage your dog to chase any type of animal. Your dog may interpret a cat to be a squirrel, leading to disastrous consequences. Train your pets to recognize and be receptive to other species.
6. Announce your arrival. When running or walking with your dog, it’s always polite to inform those ahead of you that you’re coming up behind. This can be done with a simple “Behind you” or “To your left” announcement, letting them know you’re planning to pass. This is particularly important when using public walkways.
7. Teach children. Nearly 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs every year and more than 72 percent of those are children. We have to begin educating kids (even other people’s children) on the proper way to approach an animal. This begins with you and your dog. Let parents and children know they need to approach slowly, ask to pet your dog and always keep their faces away from the dog.
8. Elevators and enclosed areas. When in an elevator or other enclosed area of a public building, your dog should move to the back corner of the elevator and sit quietly near you as people get on and off. Keep your pet on a short leash, as some people have a real fear of being in an elevator with a dog.
9. Stop and sit at crosswalks. Your dog should always stop before a crosswalk and sit quietly beside you. While not all dogs can be trained to do this, it’s important to work up to it. Not only that, it could save their lives if they ever got loose.
10. The five training commands. Come, drop, leave it, heel and sit-stay are the five basic commands every pet should know before walking out the door. If your pets cannot do these things, you should focus your training until they can.
Owning a pet is about being a responsible pet owner. You are responsible for teaching your pets good etiquette as they will not learn from others. Together we can make the world a better place for our animals and other humans.
About the Author: Stacy Mantle is the founder of PetsWeekly.com and the bestselling author of “Shepherd’s Moon.” Learn more great tips for living with animals by visiting PetsWeekly.com or get to know a little more about the author at www.StacyMantle.com