3 Tips To Make Your Dog’s Walks Safer


Taking your dog for a walk is one of the most basic things that you’ll do together, but it can also be dangerous. Don’t let fears of what may happen when you walk your dog keep you from enjoying walks. Walks are important for training, socialization, and bonding. Here are three tips to make your dog’s walks safer for both of you.

3 Tips To Make Your Dog’s Walks Safer

Taking a walk with your dog is one of the most essential activities that the two of you will enjoy together. It’s probably one of the things that you looked forward to when you anticipated getting a dog. 

Unfortunately, this activity ends up as stressful and even dangerous for many people. Some people may choose not to walk their dogs at all because they do not believe that it is safe. There are lots of reasons why you may worry about your dog’s safety (and your own safety!) on a walk, but here are some tips that will make walks safer for you and your dog.

1. Train your dog

When your dog is on a leash, they should know how they should and should not behave. It is normal for all dogs to pull on the leash a little bit, occasionally bark at people or other dogs, or try to chase squirrels; however, limiting and controlling these sorts of activities can make the difference between a pleasant walk where you are in control of your dog and one that is stressful for you, your dog, and other people and dogs. Here are some circumstances that indicate your dog needs more training and why.

Excessive pulling

Whether your dog is big or little, excessive pulling is a problem. Constantly pulling on the leash strains your dog’s joints and muscles. It can lead to severe neck problems or even paralysis in dogs predisposed to this activity. 

Using a harness certainly helps to reduce the possibility of intervertebral disc disease or joint issues, but if your dog is constantly pulling or lunging on the harness, problems can still result.

If you have a  big dog that pulls hard, excessive pulling is dangerous for both of you. You can suffer from injuries to your shoulders, wrists, and hands from constantly holding on to a pulling dog. You are also more likely to trip, fall, or suffer some other injury. 

In fact, there’s a good chance that you may not want to take your dog for a walk at all if they pull excessively. Here are a few techniques to train your dog not to pull excessively. This will help to make your walks safer.

Pulling equals direction change 

This is the most essential rule in stopping your dog from pulling. Dogs pull because it is pleasurable for them; they hope to get to the destination faster and it is a natural response to being restrained. 

By preventing your dog from moving forward whenever they pull on the leash, you remove the rewards of pulling. By changing direction when your dog pulls, you eliminate their desire to get to a specific location or target and cause them to focus on you.

If your dog is lunging towards a target like another dog, person, or prey, an abrupt direction change is the best way to handle the situation 

Use equipment that lets your dog know they are pulling

Whether you are using a collar or a harness, choose something that slackens when your dog is not pulling and tightens when they put pressure on the leash. Martingale collars work well for this purpose. 

Chest attachment harnesses are helpful because they put unexpected pressure on the chest, which causes dogs to notice it. If your dog pulls too much, however, these harnesses may do damage by pulling one of your dog’s legs off the ground. 

Tightening harnesses work better because they are very loose and comfortable when the dog is slack on the leash but tighten when your dog pulls. This occurs without putting stress on one leg over the other.

2. Be visible

You want both yourself and your dog to stand out whenever you take a walk. Whether you walk during the day, at night time, or in the pleasant hours of dawn and dusk, you need to think actively about staying safe on the road.

Even if you walk on the sidewalk, there is a risk of being hit by a bicycle or even by a motorist. If you have a small dog or a dark-colored dog, you need to think even more actively about visibility.

Reflective for nighttime safety

Use reflective harnesses and leashes. Also, consider wearing a reflective vest or jacket when you go out to walk your dog at night. Many people don’t think about choosing a reflective leash, but the leash is important for visibility. The leash makes obvious the connection between you and your dog and creates a larger and wider reflective target.

If your dog has long fur, consider choosing a reflective jacket or vest for them that will be clearly visible over the fur. Keep in mind that if your dog pulls on the leash, a harness or collar that is otherwise visible may get buried in the fur.

Bright during the day

During the day, bright colors help you and your dog stand out. Use a harness or collar for your dog that is brightly colored or neon so that it stands out even on busy streets. Make sure the leash is brightly colored as well, and consider wearing colorful clothes, especially if you are on busy streets.

Flashing lights for dusk

Do you want to go even further during the day and night to stand out? Flashing lights are a way to make you and your dog extremely visible on walks. They are especially effective in the dusk and dawn, when there may be too much daylight for drivers to use headlights.  

You can choose flashing harnesses, colors, and leashes. These are also great tools when walking your dog on a long leash and in dark conditions since it lights up your dog and lets you know where they are at all times.

3. Keep health in mind

It is your responsibility to make sure that you go at a pace and perform activities that are safe for your dog. A puppy should not exercise too much, as it will strain growing bones and joints. Older dogs also may be willing to push themselves too far if you ask them to.

Depending on the conditions, heat and cold can also become dangerous for your dog. Here are some things to keep in mind regarding your dog’s health and the conditions around you when taking your dog for a walk safely. 

Prepare for emergencies

One of the reasons that many people are afraid to take their dog for walks is because they are worried about what might happen. The owners of little dogs worry that their dogs might get attacked by larger dogs roaming in their neighborhood.

Owners of large, powerful dogs may be terrified that their dogs will break loose and hurt somebody. If your dog has a medical concern, especially an allergy to some common thing like bees, you may worry about what will happen if your dog has an episode while you are on a walk. 

Here are some tips to help you prepare for emergencies so that your walks will be safer.

  • Train for emergencies.  Are you afraid that your powerful dog may hurt somebody if they broke loose? Muzzle train your dog and only walk them when people are less likely to be out, like late at night. Are you worried that your little dog may be attacked by bigger dogs? Bring a secure carrier or stroller and practice encouraging your little dog to jump into it in case of emergencies.
  • Plan for emergencies. If you are concerned that your dog may have a medical episode suddenly, take routes that are always accessible by car. Make sure that you have transportation like a friend or rideshare service available if you need it. You can also bring essential medication (such as allergy medication if your dog has an allergy).  Bring pepper spray made especially for dogs to protect you and your dog from roving dogs.
  • Know your route. In order to prevent a disaster from occurring, do your best to know the route that you’re taking. Explore it thoroughly before you bring your dog. Are there barking dogs behind badly constructed fences that may get loose? Do you see people walking dogs who are having trouble controlling them? Once you know your area and your routine well, you’ll be able to detect potential problems 

Temperature extremes can be dangerous

Your dog can overheat faster than you might expect. Humans are exceptionally good at getting rid of excess heat through sweating, but dogs are not as good at this, especially if they have thick, heavy coats or short noses that make it more difficult to breathe.

Furthermore, hot asphalt can burn your pup’s delicate paws. You may not notice that the asphalt is hot through your tennis shoes, but your dog’s paws can rapidly be burned on hot concrete or even sand. Freezing temperatures can be equally dangerous, as your dog’s paws can get frozen or frostbitten on icy roads or when walking through snow. 

Considering using booties if you must go out in extremely hot or cold temperatures. Take plenty of breaks and keep an eye on your dog’s temperature.

Take breaks and drink water

Even if your dog seems ready to go and wants to keep on exercising and walking without breaks, it is important that you force them to relax every now and then. This is a good time to take stock of how your dog is doing, figure out their temperature, and offer water.

It is essential that your dog drinks plenty of water as they exercise, especially if they are panting a lot. Frequent breaks are even more essential in hot weather, but they are important throughout your dog’s exercise routine. 

Take time to sniff

One of the easiest ways to make sure that the walk goes at a pace that is safe for your dog and comfortable for you is to encourage your dog to take time to sniff their environment. Some dogs settle into a brisk walking pace and pull you down the road, but if you can convince them to take time to sniff around them, they may slow down and become more pleasant traveling companions.

Encourage your dog to sniff interesting areas and make a point to bring them into places where they can get off the trail a little bit and explore with you.

Summary

Walking with your dog is a lot of fun, and it is important that you continue to enjoy this activity safely. By thinking ahead, preparing for emergencies, and training your dog appropriately, you can both enjoy this healthy bonding experience every day.

Coral Dawn Drake

My fiance, Justin, and I live with our two little dogs, Sofie and Lisa, and three chickens in Gainesville, Florida. Justin and I are homebodies who occasionally enjoy a good adventure. I love living in Gainesville, and I love Florida. I can’t imagine anywhere more beautiful or strange than this hot, marshy place where people are guaranteed to be nothing other than themselves. Justin is always reminding me to relax. Relaxing doesn’t come naturally to me. I’m always busy. Making art or editing photos, digging in the yard or trying to grow some new moss or plant. There never seems to be enough time to do everything that I want to do. Life is so, so full and I want to plunge into every second of it.

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