You’ve got a new friend and would like to take them on a stroll. But is it that easy, or do you need dog walking tips?
When we say dogs LOVE going on walks, that’s still an understatement.
Going on long walks provides physical and mental stimulation for you and your furry friend, and as pet parents, you’re well aware of that (study).
According to a (study) by Harvard, daily walks with your dog can benefit you, too, as it’s a great way to stay active! Walking also helps build deeper bonds through dog training and to meet recommended physical activity goals (study).
While it is a simple routine, preparations and essential tips often come in handy to make the experience enjoyable for both you and your dog.
So, even something as easy as walking your dog requires a bit of preparation, including leash training and teaching them to avoid distractions and the work, and that’s why you’re here!
Whether you got a new pup, are a beginner, or are a professional dog walker starting your business, there can be several aspects to remember before you walk out that door.
To make things easier, we’ve created the ultimate list of essential dog-walking tips to get you and your dog started.
Dog Walking Tips for Beginners
You got a new dog, and you’re getting to know them better, and what better way to bond than by taking a walk together?
But wait, it’s a new environment for the dog, and while it seems exciting, you may make a few common mistakes.
The best way around this is to prepare yourself by knowing the basic commands and tips to start training your dog:
1. Leash training
Getting your dog accustomed to taking longer walks with a leash on is the first step in dog walking. Choosing between a retractable leash and a front clip harness will initially make walks much more effortless.
A clip harness is easy to use and gives you better control while allowing your dog to explore different environments (study). As an essential dog-walking tip, you can use a loose leash during the initial period.
2. Feed your dog’s curiosity
We all know dogs are curious animals with a penchant for pushing their snoots everywhere. Literally.
Imagine being at the dog park, and your dog starts pulling on the leash to sniff around. Instead of making it a tug of war and hurting your dog’s neck, give them more freedom to explore.
Being empathetic with your dog is always a good approach. Dogs are renowned for their sense of smell, which helps familiarise them with new areas (article), leading to better mental stimulation.
3. Carry a dog walking kit
Let’s face it. Doggos are a BIG responsibility.
It’s always better to be safe than sorry (yeah, not a shocker). So consider looking into packing a small kit while going for a walk with your dog. The bag can contain essential items such as a water bottle, collar, treats, a small towel, a poop scooper, and poop bags.
Always clean up after your dog, and carry hand sanitizers for hygiene.
4. Using recall
When you exercise your dog, remember to use commands and recalls to keep them in check (article) during walks. Getting the dog to respond quickly aids in shaping good behavior.
Continue training your dog using a clip harness or a leash even if they respond well to recall. Running to control an unruly dog is something you would want to avoid getting into on a nice, pleasant day (trust me).
5. Be wary on roads
We all know the importance of road safety. As a pet parent, you should avoid walking your pet on the side closest to the road, especially if you own small dogs. There may be distractions that can get your dog excited or riled up.
To minimize this, stop walking and maintain a distance between your dog and the distraction while using commands such as ‘sit’ or ‘stay’ till they have calmed down. Remember to avoid high-traffic areas and not let your dog lead you.
Letting the dog pull you could be a problematic and disruptive exercise. As an added precaution, reflective gear will be your best friend during the dog walk.
7. Consistency is key
Remember that training your dog to be obedient is a time-consuming task and requires patience on your part. You need to be calm and tolerant during the process.
Your initial days can be pretty daunting as a new pet parent, but through consistent efforts, you and your dog could weather this storm. Besides, using commands frequently as part of their exercise would lead to long-term memory retention (study) in the long run.
You’re also more likely to develop a powerful connection with your pet!
Dog Walking Tips for Puppies
Aren’t puppies just the cutest?
Their adorable little tail wags and yawns are enough to melt even the hearts of people who were adamant about, ‘No, we won’t get a dog!’ Well, duh, puppies are the best!
But while they’re all cute and cuddly, training a pup to be a good dog when taking walks is a different story altogether.
To overcome this dilemma, you can refer to these simple tips on how to get your pup to walk nicely:
1. Getting accustomed to leashes
Unlike older dogs, puppies are a ball of energy, bouncing from place to place. Before taking them out, you must get them accustomed to wearing a collar, a front clip harness, or a pull harness.
This might be a new experience for them and will require some time before they are comfortable wearing one. However, it would help if you did not use a front clip harness for extended periods and curb down on restraining or pulling on a leash during exercise.
2. Teach them to socialize
Puppies aren’t reserved about approaching people and animals (article). As they take in their new environment, sniffing here, barking there, you need to devote extra time to teach them how to behave in different situations to determine their future behavior (study).
The world is relatively new, and they may get nervous in some situations. Calmly guide them and leave room to interact with people and other animals as they learn about the world.
Toys are usually the best reward when it comes to training a pup. Treats would come at a close second (or whichever your pup prefers first). Studies show that early socialization makes a big difference and can improve their behavior (1, 2).
3. Reward desired behavior
When your pup displays good behavior, reward them with little treats to reinforce desired behavior (study). Learning to listen to commands and recall would be an excellent example of a reward.
Physically pulling them or using coercive behavior will lead to short-term results and traumatize your puppy. Instead, focus on allowing them ample time to play and explore.
4. Match energies with your puppy
Puppies looove excited people!
So when you walk your puppy, act animated or match their energy levels to get them to listen to you. Gradually, you can start introducing commands and other actions during training.
Dog Walking Tips for Dog Walkers
Working with dogs is the ABSOLUTE BEST! And starting your professional dog-walking business means your day is packed with paw-some clients.
Equipping yourself with the essential tips and tricks to dog walking would make the job easier and a lotta fun!
Here are a couple to help you breeze through the day:
1. Carry multiple leashes
By now, you know your client’s schedules and how to run the day caring for their doggos.
While most clients would leave a leash or lead at home to walk the dog, there may be instances where you’re still looking for it, or it’s just not there in its usual place. Always carry a spare leash to save yourself some trouble to avoid such situations.
2. Use non-restrictive harnesses
Walking multiple dogs can be a hassle if not done right.
Even a single dog has the energy to drag you along and become unruly. Imagine walking four or five? Yikes!
Hence, to make walks easier, it is advisable to use comfortable harnesses. They do not tangle as much as retractable leashes and allow you to take them off a collar easily. Besides, harnesses are less restraining and more comfortable for the dogs (study).
3. Always carry treats
Treats are the easiest way to a dog’s heart. Especially when you enter the home of new clients, and the dogs aren’t familiar with you.
They see you as a threat and can get aggressive or overtly enthusiastic. Getting them to calm down then becomes a tedious task, and this is where the treats will step in.
Treats are also great for building trust and lasting relationships when your dog walks.
4. Use colored key tags
Working with multiple clients can be a handful, and keeping track of their dogs can be quite a task. To eliminate confusion and be more organized, colored key tags for houses and pets would be helpful.
Noting addresses in a small book can also help you store important client information. However, you should not note their names or addresses on the collar itself to ensure the safety of the clients and their pets.
5. Use a car seat cover
As a professional dog walker, a car seat cover will be your best friend. Picking up multiple pet clients can seriously disturb your car’s interiors and cause discomfort for both parties.
Cleaning up after them is a headache you don’t need after a long working day. Car seat covers are usually designed to act as a dog cradle and are spacious enough to handle multiple pooches. So they can easily drool away in the back seat.
You should also keep two car keys, i.e., a spare. While picking up a dog, you can keep the others in the car with the AC on during hot days so they are comfortable. Meanwhile, you can use your other key to secure the vehicle from outside to ensure their safety.
6. Carry a dog walking kit
You should curate a dog walking kit to help you get through the day in a cinch.
The kit or bag should contain:
- A water bottle.
- A snack for you.
- Poop scooper and bag.
- An extra leash.
- A microfibre towel.
- A hand sanitizer.
These will be the tools you require to ease up walks.
How to Avoid Distractions While Walking Your Dog?
Dogs can easily get distracted by their environment, such as other animals, people, or anything that can pique their interest, causing them to display aggressive behavior towards unwarranted distractions (study).
Then say your prayers as your dog pulls you along for the ride. This can be dangerous to your and your pet’s safety if not worked out during dog walk training.
An ideal situation would be to exercise your dog before continuing leash training or going for a walk. Physical exercises satisfy their craving to bounce off energy, relieve frustration, boost behavior, and aid their overall well-being (study).
Unless it’s an emergency or danger, you should resist pulling your dog and instead try to maintain distance between them and the object of distraction. Use basic commands like ‘sit’ or ‘stay’ to help them calm down. Also, ensure that the dog listens to you voluntarily and not through physical coercion.
Adverse techniques often have the opposite effect on dogs, and methods such as yelling or aggressively pulling them to obey you can lead to long-term psychological damage (article). Instead, teach them to think through their actions, so they can understand how to behave rather than being told how to several times.
Ultimately, your goal should be to motivate your dog, focusing on consistency during training and walks. Clear instructions and a patient-loving approach would be the best way to dog walk.
Finally, make sure they take potty breaks during a walk and stay hydrated on your adventures!
Frequently Asked Questions
Dog walking often include a few basics that you can cover in order to improve. One of the foremost would be to focus on leash training, following which you can start using recall during walks, allowing room for dogs to explore and sniff around, and refraining from physical coercion or manipulation to get your dogs to obey you. Instead, focus on motivating your dog to voluntarily think through their actions and understand you.
While there may be instances where your dog might choose to walk in front, you should remember that you are the one leading the dog and not the other way around. The foremost tips for beginners suggest that allowing dogs to lead may cause them to pull you along even with the slightest of distractions. This would be quite dangerous on roads. The ideal option would be to use a short leash and have them walk beside you during walks.
Dogs are quite spirited and easily distracted, especially during walks. Meeting people, animals, taking in new sights, become quite distracting during walking, causing them to pull you along. The best dog walking tips to get your dog to stop pulling on a walk is to maintain some distance between the dog and the object of distraction. You can also use commands such as ‘sit’ or ‘stay’, to get them to calm down before resuming your walk. Physically coercion on the dog may provide only a temporary outcome, so you should focus on verbal motivation for better results.
Dogs are social creatures, and often display a range of emotions during interactions. Training your dog to be oblivious of other dogs when walking may be quite a challenge. Even if your dog responds well to recall, continue leash training with them in order to reduce their interactions with people or animals who might not be open to the idea. Besides this, you can always use treats or quick recalls. However, you should know that interacting with other dogs builds socialisation skills in your dog, teaches them to learn signals from them, and feeds their emotional intelligence, for their overall well-being.
Sniffing while dog walking is both mentally and physically stimulating for your dog. It enriches their senses, makes them aware about their environment, and helps in their overall well-being. With that being said, there is no specific amount of time for your dog to sniff while walking, and if you find that your dog is lingering too long in one spot, you can use recall or treats to get them to bring their focus back to you and continue walking.