Walk Your Dog Right Into National Walk Your Dog Day
Each year, we celebrate National Walk Your Dog Day on February 22nd. Though you should be walking your dog as a daily activity, you can get into the spirit of the holiday by reading up on how to properly walk your dog.
Getting into a regular routine of dog walking has a wide range of benefits. From helping to keep both you and your dog operating at a healthy heart rate and weight, to helping your dog get properly socialized to interact with other dogs—there’s really no down side to walking your dog every day.
Having your dog appropriately leash-trained will make regular walks a more pleasant experience for you, your pup, and other pedestrians you may come across on your walk. The following tips on how to walk your dog will help to make walking your dog as easy as a walk in the park.
1) Practice Praise
The one surefire way to make progress when trying to leash-train a dog is to praise them when they are doing well. Especially if your dog is a heavy puller, be sure to mark and praise her whenever the leash goes slack.
You may want to carry a handful of training treats with you so that you can reward your pup with a treat whenever the leash is slack. Your dog will begin to realize that good things come when they aren’t rushing ahead.
2) Use a Short Leash
If you are just beginning the process of training your dog to walk, you’ll want to start with a short leash so that your furry friend can get used to walking right by your side. The shorter the leash, the more control you’ll have throughout the walk.
If your dog is a puller, a short leash will ensure that you never lose control, putting your dog or anyone else in harm’s way.
3) Use a Harness or Gentle Leader
If you have a strong puppy who’s eager to be on the move, you’ll be astounded by how much a harness will help you stay in control. Using only a collar can cause damage to a dog’s trachea, as it puts consistent pressure on the throat and neck.
Harnesses are better for short-nosed dogs, as the gentle leader fits over the face and snout. Decide which option is best for your specific dog, and then get in the habit of using it every time you take your dog for a walk. Though your pup may initially be hesitant about using a harness or gentle leader, they’ll soon begin to associate it with going for a walk.
4) Don’t Pull on the Leash
If you have a curious dog who likes to stop and sniff around every five feet, you may want to break this habit. Don’t offer your dog a treat as motivation to keep moving every time they stop, as this will teach them that they will be rewarded for stopping to sniff around.
Teach your dog that sniffing is okay, but only during dedicated sniffing time. Allow part of your walk for being curious and sniffing around. Then, when it’s time to start walking again, tap your dog or whistle to keep her moving.
5) Make Sure You Have Enough Time
With puppies, you don’t want your walk to be so long that they become discouraged or exhausted, but you also want to make sure you have enough time for your pup to really benefit from the outdoor time.
Ideally, a good walk should include at least thirty minutes of walking and potentially some time to romp around in a dog park or green space. If you’re lucky enough to live near a park, try walking to the park, playing fetch for a while, then walking back home.
6) A Good Walk Deserves a Reward
After a successful walk, reward your dog with verbal praise, a treat, and maybe even some snuggles. You can time your walks so that they fall right before a meal time—that way your dog’s reward can be a bowl of food and a big dish of water.
After a walk, make sure your dog stays hydrated. For long walks and hikes, you may want to bring water along with you. Regardless of meal-time schedules, your dog should always have a full dish of water.
7) Become a Regular Dog Walker
The one way to ensure that your dog becomes a perfect walker is to give her lots of practice time. Going for a walk at the same time every day will help your dog realize the routine and how best to handle it.
A regular walk with your dog will help to maintain good healthy habits for both you and your dog. Dogs that don’t get enough exercise can become bored and destructive, so a regular walk can encourage your dog to be better behaved and an all-around happier pet in the home.
Author: Giano Panzarella