Woman with dog in a harness.

5 Safety Tips for Walking Your Dog


If you have a dog, then you already know that daily walks are the name of the game when it comes to keeping your canine companion healthy and active. Walking helps your dog burn off excess energy, stops them from gaining excess weight, and as an added benefit gets you out of the house and off your feet, too. However, while walking your dog is a necessity, it's important to consider the health and safety risks that it may pose. That's why it pays to really think about your walks and how you can improve them so that both of you enjoy yourselves more.

If you want to have healthier walks with fewer injuries, then consider some of the following tips:

1. Nix Your Dog's Traditional Collar and Leash

To be clear, when you're walking with your pup, you need to be able to maintain control for their safety. For most of us, that means making sure your dog's collar is durable, and that you have an equally durable leash that your four-legged friend can't break. However, a traditional collar is not the best way to do that. As Top Dog Tips points out, the conventional leash and collar are functional but can cause injury to your dog (as well as you) over time. This makes sense when you think about the strain all that tugging can put on your dog's neck, and on your shoulder. Instead of a regular collar and leash, you should consider fitting your dog with a harness. This will lessen the strain on both you and your dog.

Harnesses are more difficult for a dog to get out of (which is a bonus if your dog tends to take a page out of Houdini's book), and they also give you greater control over your dog with less strain on his neck, and on your shoulder. You take a lot of walks when you have a dog, and that strain can really add up over the years.

2. Always Ask Other Dog Owners for Permission Before Approaching

You know how in naval dramas there's that whole scene where someone asks the captain for permission to come aboard their ship? Even if the person asking permission knows the captain or is clearly meant to be there, they still go through the process of asking? The same thing applies when you see other people out walking their dogs; according to The Whole Pet Vet, make sure you have the owner’s consent before approaching their dog. Part of this is practicing good etiquette as a dog owner, but the other part is a genuine safety concern. Your dog might be well-trained and friendly, but another dog may be aggressive, easily frightened, or both. Even if that other pooch is normally a friendly dog, they might be having a stressful day. If the dog in question appears to be a stray, don't take the risk of approaching at all; give them plenty of space, and walk around. It's not worth risking a confrontation.

3. Keep Both of You Hydrated When You're Out and About

Whether you're going for a short turn around the block or spending a day at the park, make sure that you and your dog both stay hydrated. Set regular breaks to drink and rest when you're pounding the pavement, no matter how much fun you're having; it's a necessity. Making sure you have enough water can make a big difference when it comes to your hound's health, as well as your own, and it's up to you as the responsible pet owner to make sure you're both properly hydrated.

4. Always Maintain Control of Your Dog

It sounds like the most obvious thing in the world, but you need to make sure you can always re-assert control of your dog if you need to while the two of you are out for a walk. This means you need to have your eyes and ears open and both feet on the ground at all times. It also means you shouldn't be roller skating or riding a bike while walking your dog. You've likely seen enough movies where the protagonist's dog runs off with them because they couldn't maintain control, likely resulting in a hilarious pratfall. In real life, it's just not safe for you or your four-legged friend.

5. Bring the Necessary Equipment With You

If you're going for a short walk, you might think that all you need is a leash and your dog's harness, but it's a good idea to stop and take inventory according to Pets + Us. For example, do you have a few baggies in your pocket in case your dog has to answer the call of nature? Do you have some water for the two of you, and perhaps a bowl if you're going to the park, and you know there are no decent water fountains? If you're going out in the evening, always bring a flashlight with you. Even if you're sure you'll be back before it gets dark.

To maintain the safety of you and your pup, it's important to get into the habit of thinking ahead to see what conditions you're going out in and prepare for them accordingly. Preparation can save you a lot of grief and frustration in your day-to-day walks. It will also ensure that neither you nor your dog hurt yourselves trying to walk in the dark, get dehydrated because it's too hot out, or find yourself in trouble because you didn’t prepare.

An ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure when you've got someone depending on you.

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