My life consists of a lot of walking, and I was thinking at work this week that there’s a lot more to it than just ‘walking’. So here’s my own personal little list of dog walking essentials…
A comfortable waterproof coat with as many pockets as physically possible! I struggle on warmer days, as no coat means no pockets to cram! And I can honestly say I use everything that’s tucked away in my pockets, almost every day, poo bags, treats, keys, phones, gloves, dog whistle, the list goes on!
Treats & recall
I think this is automatic to some people, and not others. Feeding your dog whilst exercising it may seem contradictory, but treats can be a huge help. I’d say the main one is with recall. There’s some debate on whether you should reward your dog after every recall, even after its been learnt. I believe every recall is as important as the last, it is one of, if not the most important thing you will ever teach your dog. His safety, your safety and others around you, depends on it. Losing a dog is every dog owners worst nightmare, so why not reward him every time he returns?
Not the most glamorous point to make I know, but important none the less. Also, if you think you might need say, two, take four, or five! You never know when you might need them! Sometimes they split, sometimes your dog surprises you! Recently I caught a full one on a prickly branch…good job I had a spare!
Be prepared & act before your dog reacts
By this I just mean taking control, and being on the ball whilst out walking with your dog. If you see a cyclist or a cat ahead, that you know your dog will want to chase or freak out at, get ready as soon as you see it, rather than when you’re a metre away from it and about to be pulled over. I’ll give an example. A dog I walk at work is fantastic with the majority of other dogs, but there are certain dogs (usually small dogs) that she just does not want to interact with. If I see one approaching, I use treats to keep her by my side, calmly keep on walking, giving her praise, and we just sail past, with no uncomfortable confrontation. As we all know, certain situations can trigger a negative response in a dog, often caused by a previously bad experience. I won’t talk about this too much, as there’s so much to say on the subject, such as further training/desensitisation. I just mean being alert and taking action, (if possible) before anything has the chance to materialise. This week in fact, at work, I turned a corner (literally not metaphorically!) with the dog I was walking. Around the corner was another dog, which the two of us weren’t expecting, that let out a huge bark, and startled us both! Note to self: you never know what might be around the corner! Also, if you see a dog in the distance, that you’ve met before, knowing it is lead reactive or under training for example, help the owner out too, by not letting your dog get too close.
If you’re walking a food loving hound, this is a must, although not always possible if you’ve got a dog off-lead! I’ve come across some gross & bizarre food items on walks; moldy old bones, fish heads, chips, biscuits, jars of meat! I just wonder how these things get there…
Meet n’ greet
I know sometimes you might just want to walk, just you and the dog, but seeing as I spend my day with just dogs, (which by no means am I complaining!) it’s just nice to have some human interaction sometimes! Plus, everybody strangely knows everyone in the park! You’ll meet the relative of the lady you met at the vets, who is also your friends neighbour, who knows your aunty, through a breeder, who also walks at the same park!
Have fun & take photos!
Your dog may want to sniff every lamppost, stampede through any water, play chase with each dog he meets and roll several times in fox poop… and it’s called being a dog! Let him have his fun, and enjoy it with him. I’m still surprised at the number of people I see that walk 30 metres in front of their dog, leaving them to their own devices. And take photographic evidence too, that you can look back on and smile!