Is your dog overweight? Could you stand to lose a pound or two? Here’s a great way to get started on an exercise program that will help you and your dog.
Dogs make great walking companions and great personal trainers. If you begin walking with your dog you may soon find his tail is wagging your walking program. They are ready to walk when you are (unlike friends and family), tow you down the trail, and in a short period of time will let you know when it is time to go for a good walk.
1. Train your dog how to behave when walking
Dog walking doesn’t usually require any special training, but if you want to make that walk truly enjoyable, it’s better if your dog knows the basic rules for a good walk. You can find some inexpensive basic dog training classes to get you started.
Start the training program while the dog is a puppy (read the special puppy leash training section) and continue until the dog can be trusted off-leash. But, just because you starting later in life, doesn’t mean that your mis-behavin’ dog can’t learn a few tricks, like walking down the sidewalk at your side without it being a tug-of-war. The bottom line is that a trained dog is a pleasure to walk with.
2. Walk on leash
If your dog is on a leash it can’t get away and cause problems. Consider using a pinch collar if your dog is a puller while walking to increase your control and comfort. Some walkers use a harness and others find retractable leashes to be the best way to give the dog a little more slack, then reel them in as needed.
3. Are dogs allowed where you plan to walk?
You can walk just about anywhere. If walking in a park, call to check if that’s permissible. Sometimes dogs are allowed on the trails, but not in shuttle buses or visitor centers. Sidewalks in the neighborhood are also easy to get to places.
4. Carry a pooper scooper
Be kind and obey the lawn. Your dog may find the need to relieve themselves on your neighbor’s lawn. Good neighbors will pack it out. Nobody will think twice about seeing you carrying around a bag full of dog poop. Not since many communities have enacted laws requiring pet owners to be responsible and clean up piles your dog is responsible for creating. Many carry plastic bags that newspapers sometimes come in. When the bag is placed over the hand you can pick up what you have to, turn the bag inside out, and tie the end closed. Dispose of properly. Ziplock storage bags are another secure option.
Carry water for both you and your pet. You can use your hand as a water dish. Walkers reported using collapsible cups and inflatable watercolor water dishes, cloth water dishes, zip lock bags.
6. Rest stops
In warm weather, find a shady spot and take ten if you or your dog is panting a little too much. Play with the dog, talk to other walkers, and cool down a bit. Dogs can’t sweat. They keep cool by panting, finding shady spots, walking in water, and drinking lots of water. Never leave your dog in a vehicle unattended, especially in warm weather. If you are walking near water in the summer, find a safe place (not public beaches) and let your dog go swimming.
Every dog should have a couple of forms of identification. Name tags and collars get lost. Tattoos and embedded microchips will back up the name tag. You should carry a clear photo of the dog, which can aid in recovery. Also, some areas of the country require you to carry the rabies certificate with you.
8. Is Your Dog Ready?
Before taking a dog on a 10K walk-a-thon consider if the dog is healthy enough, has the desire, and is trained enough to walk the distance at your side. If it’s been a while since your dog walked any distance get an ok from your vet if your pooch has any sort of medical problem, is overweight, etc. Work up to the longer distances with them by doing the shorter distances first. In fact, you should also get checked out too if it’s been a while since you did anything more than walk from the refrigerator to the couch.