You cannot avoid every danger, but there are steps you can take to be as safe as possible.
- Use a solid, standard leash. Watch for our upcoming post Leashes 101 for more details. Consider using a body harness to avoid letting the collar put too much pressure on the neck/throat of your dog.
- Be sure your dog knows basic commands of SIT, STAY, DOWN, LEAVE IT and COME. These commands are essential for your safety and his.
- It only takes a second for a dog of any size to jerk the leash out of your hand when they see something they desire, so place your hand through the loop of your leash and grip the strap of the leash in your hand.
- Stay alert. Do not let your dog eat scraps of anything while on the walk. There are many illness-causing (cigarette butts, bunny poop…), even deadly (anti-freeze, sugarless chewing gum…), "goodies" that a dog can find everywhere.
- Don't talk on the phone or text while you are walking. If you must answer a call or text, step aside to a safe area away from other dogs and people, have your dog SIT or lay DOWN, and then answer.
- ALWAYS carry poop bags. It is horribly inconsiderate not to clean up after your dog, as well as being gross and unsanitary.
- Be aware of your surroundings. If you live in an urban area, you will encounter children, walkers, runners, other animals, automobiles, bikes, etc. If you are in a more rural area, your dog will see bunnies, deer, opossum, raccoons, birds. Any of these can be a trigger for a disaster. Larger breed dogs can pull you off your feet if they decided they want to play chase with a runner, car or other animal. The smaller breed dogs are quick and great at catching you unaware, and you don't want them hurting themselves when they pull too hard on the leash.
- If your dog is new to walking, keep it short and keep your distance from distractions until your dog is used to these new novelties – automobiles, kids, other dogs. You are hopefully already learning this in your local obedience training class. If not, sign up today.
- It is a good practice to stop and have your dog SIT at all intersections.
- Prepare for the worst. What if you lose your footing and your dog gets loose? A good COME recall would be valuable. Supposed you are disoriented for a few minutes and your dog runs off. Is it microchipped? Are its tags current with your contact info? Is your dog well socialized so that it will come to people when they call it? If you answered no to any of these questions, it is time to do some work that is worth every minute and penny spent.
I hope these suggestions help. If you have more, I would love for you to share them here.
If you need dog walking in the Greater New Kensington area, please call us at 724-448-7330 or email us at Consultation@yourcrittersitters.com.