Taking your dog for a walk should be a relaxing way of taking care of your dog and getting a little exercise and decompressing from the stress of the day. Unfortunately, several things could potentially go wrong. But if you prepare properly, you can keep yourself and your furry friend safe.
Dog Walking Dangers
Dogs are strong and more durable than most people think. They can withstand a lot and are often better suited for a walk than their human counterparts. Having said that, there are several risks to keep in mind.
Dogs have limits too. For smaller dogs, senior dogs, and arthritic dogs, in particular, exhaustion is a very real danger. Having a tired dog is a good thing, but you don’t want to overwork them to the point that they become exhausted.
This is probably the biggest danger (at least for those of us who live in cities or other crowded areas). Cars are the number one killer of dogs in the U.S. Failing to pay attention for even just a couple of minutes could end up being a fatal mistake.
Most dogs are friendly with one another. However, you’ll occasionally encounter another dog on a walk who is aggressive. And even if your dog isn’t naturally aggressive, its instincts will kick in. This could lead to a nasty fight.
Did you know that more than one in six owners have lost a dog at some point in their lives? Or that thousands of dogs go missing every single month? While some of these dogs run away from home, many become lost when they slip off a collar or become spooked during a walk.
Poor weather conditions
Extremely hot temperatures can lead your dog to become exhausted and dehydrated. (It can also lead to burned pads on feet.) Extremely cold temperatures can also be dangerous. It’s important to prepare for these extremes and to take the proper safety measures when walking.
This is just a list of potential dangers. Don’t let it scare you into not walking your dog. By keeping them in mind, you can proactively prevent them from becoming issues.
4 Tips to Keep Your Dog Safe on a Walk
While dangers do exist, you (as the owner) can neutralize most of these threats and create a safe and enjoyable walking experience for everyone. Here’s how:
1. Avoid Walking During the Extremes of the Day
You can carefully insulate or protect yourself from extreme temperatures and weather conditions by simply changing what you wear. Dogs don’t have that ability. For this reason, it’s best to avoid walking during the extremes of the day. This means avoiding 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. in the warm months and the early-morning hours and late-evening hours during the chilly months.
2. Use the Proper Dog Collar and Leash
Your dog’s collar and leash play an important role in their safety on a walk. It provides support for them and gives them control. For maximum control over your dog, you need a sturdy leash that’s between four to six feet in length and attached to a properly fitting harness or collar. If walking in low-visibility areas and/or darkness, having some sort of reflective safety collar for your dog is a good idea.
3. Train Your Dog to “Leave It”
As you know, dogs are very curious and instinctive. If they smell or see something interesting, they’re going to explore. The problem is that you don’t always want them smelling, eating, licking, or touching something that could be potentially dangerous. This is why it’s extremely valuable to teach your dog the command “leave it.” A dog who understands and responds to these two words is going to be much safer.
4. Wear the Correct Attire
Both you and your pup need to wear the proper attire when walking. If you know you’ll be walking in exceptionally warm conditions – like on hot pavement or hot sand – get your dog some booties to protect the pads on their feet. And if conditions are exceptionally cold, a properly fitting sweater or jacket can keep their core temperature more stable.
Putting it All Together
Your dog is smart, but he’s also dependent on you to make wise decisions that put him in the best possible conditions. Use this article as a prompt to reevaluate your current dog walking habits. With a few tweaks, you can ensure your walks are both safe and fun.