How to make walkies wonderful for both of you

Dogs love their walks, and provided they are physically able to, should have at least one good walk a day.
Dogs love their walks, and provided they are physically able to, should have at least one good walk a day.

It's safe to say that their walk is one of the highlights of your dog's day - and it's also one of the most enjoyable ways we can spend time with our pooches. But how can you make sure that your dog is getting the most out of their walk?

Here are some handy tips for making your walk as enjoyable as possible.

Don't let your dog develop negative walking habits

Walks aren't much fun when you're being dragged down the sidewalk by your dog - and pulling against their collar or harness can also be uncomfortable for them too. You can teach your dog to walk happily on a loose lead without pulling by using rewards-based training consistently and make your walks much more fun. The main principle is to continue walking when your dog is not pulling on the lead, but to stop walking as soon as your dog starts to pull, and stand still like a tree. Your dog will learn that when they don't pull, they can continue to walk forward, and that when they do pull, it actually delays their journey even more. You can also give your dog a tasty food treat when they walk on a loose lead to help reinforce the lesson.

Make sure you have the right walking gear

There are heaps of different options when it comes to leads and collars/harnesses for dog-walking, but it's important to find the right one for your dog. There are a few tips that can help you make the best choice.

First of all, your dog's collar or harness must fit correctly and be loose enough to be comfortable - generally, you need to be able to slide two fingers comfortably under the collar/straps. Remember to check this regularly, particularly with a growing puppy! Aversive training collars like check/choker chains or pronged/pinch collars cause pain and distress, and should not be used.

Your leash is just as important - using a sturdy leash with a length of around two metres is ideal. Remember not to get too heavy a leash for your dog, as this can put pressure on their neck and spine. Extendable and bungee leads are also not recommended, because these can lessen your control on your dog's range, and can encourage pulling.

Avoid any hazards

When walking in busy areas, keep an eye on the traffic, and teach your dog to wait at intersections for your cue, so that they don't walk onto the road until it's safe. Always watch the ground to make sure there isn't any broken glass or other sharp objects that could hurt your dog's paws. In hot weather, use the five-second test to check whether the pavement is cool enough to walk on - place the back of your hand on the ground, and if it can stay there without getting too hot, then it's safe to walk on with your dog.

Dogs love their walks, and provided they are physically able to, should have at least one good walk a day. Remember that walks are extra exciting for dogs because their excellent sense of smell means they're gaining lots of information about their environment as they travel. Enjoy your walks!

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