- Weather: You don’t want it too hot or too cold. Yes, dogs have fur, but it’s usually no more protective than a thin layer of clothes, with some breeds being an exception. And don’t go for a long walk in the rain. It’s not healthy for the pup, and do you really want to smell wet dog? A basic 72 degrees Fahrenheit is a solid temperature. But be your own judge. You know what’s hot and cold.
- Use that leash:In most cities this is the law, but it’s also practical and a safety measure. If you keep your pet near you, he or she can’t be off getting into trouble, now can they? It can also help teach the dog that you are the leader in the relationship. If you find your dog is coughing or hacking by pulling on the collar, try one of those harnesses that surround the dog’s waist. Pinch collars and choke chains are also an option, but I’m always afraid it could hurt the dog by biting into its neck.
- Water: If you and your furry pal are going for a long walk, you both need to keep hydrated, especially on warmer days. Take along a sizable bottle of water and a bowl. Plenty of pet stores now offer travel bowls or a little kit that includes a bowl and bottle.
- Rest: If you’ve walked a good ways and your dog is looking tired, give it a rest. Park it under a shady tree for a while, or sit on the ground together. Remember dogs can get hurt from too much exercise, just like humans, and can wear themselves out.
- Identification: Make sure your dog’s collar has an ID tag. I know a lot of pet owners don’t want to think about this, but if something should happen to you or your pet while out on a walk, your pet will need identification. It might be the best hope of getting your dog back if the two of you get separated.
- Daily exercise: Regardless of what kind of dog you have, it needs at the very least one good walk a day. Larger and more active breeds could probably use two or three walks a day. Even beagles, as small as they are, like to get out and roam around. And it’s healthy for the dog and for you.
- Talk: That’s right. Talk to your dog. Not only will your voice be an assurance to your walking partner, but it will help the dog keep pace with you. Also, by talking, your dog will see you are paying attention and he or she is more likely to pay attention to you, too. Yep, talking even helps dogs to mind better.
- Keep your eyes open: Danger can lurk in a lot of places for a dog, especially when you two are walking near a road. Dogs often don’t seem to notice traffic, so you have to be the one in control of the situation to avert anything bad happening. Also keep your eyes open for bicycles, other walkers and other dogs. Heck, I once saw a blue jay sweep down from a tree at my beagle! The beagle just stood there staring while I tried to swat away the bird with my baseball cap. We both got away unscathed and I laugh about it to this day.
- Be the leader: This doesn’t mean you have to pull and tug on your pet and yell at him or her. You need training. That’s right, you need training, not the dog. Don’t let the dog walk in front of you. That will make you the boss. Keep the dog behind you a little or at your side. If you remain the alpha leader, you can better control your pet and better deal with any untoward situations that should arise.
- Have fun:Yes, have fun. Often, a walk is the highlight of your dog’s day, but he or she won’t enjoy it as much if you aren’t having fun, too. Some dogs like long walks all over the place, while other enjoy short walks in set parameters. Each dog is individual, but they all like to walk, walk, walk. Enjoy the sunshine. Enjoy the exercise. Have a blast with your furry friend.