Dogs are uncomplicated creatures that take delight from the simple pleasures of life. It does not take much to keep them content- a few hugs, your company, and healthy food. But most importantly, the one thing your furry bundle of joy needs is a walk.
All dog experts will tell you that dogs need 1-2 walks every day. The walk is their playtime. This is when they unwind and relax, meet other dogs, exchange doggy news, and be themselves.
Yet surveys have shown that most dog-owners don’t even take their dogs out for a walk every day. We understand that everyone is busy, but when you bring a dog home and start rearing it, you are duty-bound to see to its health- both psychological and physical. And a 30-minute walk can do that and so much more. It will cement the bond between the two of you and foster respect for each other.
There’s something else in it for you! Your health too will improve by leaps and bounds. Now that we have established how important dog-walks, let’s go into how you can make those 30 minutes less fictitious and more enjoyable for the two of you. Because dogs can be stubborn, temperamental and moody, you will have to be patient, understanding and employ positive methods to teach your dog how to behave itself during a walk.
If you have adopted a puppy or dog or have recently started taking your dog out for a walk, the following tips will help ease both of you into the new routine.
Tip 1: Acclimate your dog to the leash
Dogs should be on a leash in public places for the safety of other humans. So no matter how good-natured or friendly your pooch is or how guilty you feel about it, the leash is imperative.
But most dogs object to it. They squirm, bark and wriggle. So how do you work your way out of this pickle? Call your dog and pull out the leash. Your dog knows the leash and will immediately become hyperactive. Turn your back to him/her and you can put the leash away. This will make your dog think that you will not take him/her out for the walk.
Try to put the leash on your dog a minute later, he/she will have calmed down by then and ready to accept the leash without a fuss. Or it might take another round. Remember, dogs are like guileless children, the hope of reward drives them. The walk is the reward.
Tip 2: Use a harness
Dog-lovers do not like attacking the leash to a collar. And if dogs are stubborn and pull a lot on the leash or if the dog is big, a collar-leash could hurt them. If you use a leash and collar when you are out on a walk and you try to reign in your exuberant dog by yanking him/her to your heel, you could bruise the dog’s neck.
A harness, however, distributes the weight in an even way and gives you greater control, eliminates all possibilities of injuries to the dog. So even if your dog is wearing an ornamental collar, use a harness.
Tip 3: Keep the leash small
A long leash allows your dog to fall behind, walk ahead or go off on a tangent. This could be dangerous for your puppy’s safety. You have to be extra careful when you guys are walking along a street and he/she could get hit by a vehicle.
Tip4: Treats and reward
All dogs need to be disciplined or they will run rings around you all the time. Without discipline, dogs turn aggressive, disobedient and fierce. They can pose a danger to other humans and animals. The need for discipline is never so urgent as when you and your dog are out for a walk.
But, never EVER use your superior strength or technology to subdue your dog. Gently but firm dog parenting is required if you want your walk to be a fulfilling experience for both of you. This is where treats come in. Carry dog treats like biscuits in your pockets. Award your beloved pooch when-
- We/she walks alongside you and does not pull on the leash
- Doesn’t try to chase after other dogs, cats or birds
- Obeys a command
- Simply looks at you and gives you that heart-meltingly adorable doggy smile!
Touch your dog’s head, scratch behind his/her ears and simply tell your furry buddy that you are proud of him/her. Encouragement during these nature walks will make you two fast friends.
Tip 5: Let your dog sniff around
The moment a dog sets foot (paw) outside the house, he/she will frantically start sniffing everything. It can be annoying to have to stop every few feet as your dog finds a fresh patch to investigate. But don’t be short with your dog.
For dogs, sniffing is the only way to get their bearings. It also helps them determine if there are any invaders lurking about. You can decide how many times and where you will pause to let your dog put that nose to use. But don’t stop your doggo from sniffing.
All those thousands of smells that waft into their nose act as mental stimulation for your dog. That is why sniffing is vital for their psychological well-being.
Tip 6: Clean up after your dog
Scooping up the pet pooch’s poop is a law in many countries but unfortunately, it has not yet been implemented here. And with so many strays defecating everywhere, most pet parents do not understand the need for doing something so gross.
The walk is when your dog will poop. Picking up your pet’s poop is not just good manners, but you would help in keeping the neighborhood clean. You will also reduce the risk of spreading an illness inadvertently. Dog feces contain some dangerous strains of microbes such as Guardia, roundworms, E-coli, hookworms.
They will eventually seep into the groundwater and make its way to food and drinks and trigger a contagion.
And if you have a big dog, like a Saint Bernard, be prepared to deal with a lot of poop.
Tip 7: Carry water with you
Make sure your dog laps up plenty of water before you go out. Take your dog’s water bowl and a bottle of water. Your dog will feel thirsty if the walk lasts for more than half an hour and the weather is sultry. Dogs can get dehydrated as much as us when they exercise out in the heat. But dogs have the short end of the stick because their bodies can’t regulate temperature as efficiently as us.
Tip 8: Your dog should wear some form of identity
Many dogs wander away and lose their way on walks. You can’t be careful enough and not all circumstances are in your control. That is why it is of paramount importance that your dog wears his/her id on a walk. The pet owner’s name and address can be inscribed onto your dog’s collar. If he/she runs away, a good Samaritan who rescues your pooch will be able to find where the dog lives.
There is something else you can try. Register your dog with the Kennel Club of India, and they will hand you a microchip with a unique identification code for your dog. A veterinary doctor will inject the microchip into your friend. If you ever lose him/her, then technology can help locate your dog.
Tip 9: Be wary of other dogs
Your puppy may be genial and gregarious, but not all other dogs are. So you might find your dog wanting to make friends with other pets. For example, Saint Bernard puppies are super friendly! But before you let your dog approach another dog, be careful. Ask the other pet parent if his/her dog is willing to make friends.
Tip 10: Are the roads and pavement too hot or cold?
Your dog will be walking barefoot. So before you head out, place your own barefoot to check the temperature of the street. If it is too warm or too cold, make your dog wear booties to prevent injury to their tender paw pads. Or you can walk your dog on the grass.
Walking your dog can be the highlight of your day if done right. It will be a shared activity and something both you and your dog look forward to.
Oindrila is a single parent to two adorable pooches. When she’s not blogging about dogs, you’ll find her gushing over dog movies or novels (why do they all tug on the heartstrings?), cuddling with her puppies and helping care for dogs in distress at a dog shelter.