Walking a dog seems like an easy enough thing to do. It certainly is something we see pet parents do often if not daily. I would like to talk about Why, When, What we need and How to walk our dogs.

Why do we walk our dog?  Most pet parents will tell you they walk their dog because they believe their dog needs the exercise and this is true. All dogs, even small dogs, need to get up and move. Walking is an excellent way to build muscle tone for dogs. Obesity is one of the biggest medical concerns for dogs and for humans. Walking your dog will give both you and your dog beneficial exercise. 

Some people say because they have a big backyard for their dogs to run in, they don't consider walking their dogs essential. I have a big yard for my dogs to run in. My dogs can run faster when they are playing together in the back yard than they can on a walk. However, taking my dogs for a walk makes their world bigger. There are new places to sniff, new dogs and people to meet and squirrels and rabbits and so much more to see on a walk. If you have a nature trail or fun place to walk it makes the experience even more fun for both of you. Backyards do not replace the need for a good walk. 

When is the best time to walk your dog? It is important to keep the weather and temperature in mind when you go walking with your best friend. On hot days remember dogs sweat differently than we do. They sweat by panting from their mouth and through the paw pads of their feet. With fewer sweat glands, they do not have the ability to sweat like we do so they are in much more danger of heat exhaustion. If your dog is older it is especially important to consider the temperature when walking. Always take fresh cold water with you on longer walks. If your dog finds a shady spot and sits or lies down there, he may be telling you he needs to rest for a few minutes. A young healthy dog could be your running partner but remember the need for hydration for your dog as well as yourself. Even a younger and healthy dog may be at risk running in very hot temperatures. On warm weather days, it is best to walk in earlier mornings when it is cooler or at dusk when the sun has gone down. 

In colder weather dogs have needs as well. Some times it is thought because they have a coat over their entire body they do not need anything else to help keep them warm. This is not the case. On very cold days I have coats my dogs wear. Some times snow booties are also a must to keep the paws not just warm but protected from salt treatments and other chemicals used on ice and snow. On colder days it is helpful to walk at noon time when the sun is warmer. Time of day is not at much a consideration in colder weather, but do wear a coat and or booties if warranted for your dog. 

What do you need to walk your dog? There are different equipment for different dogs. I recommend a six foot leash. I do not recommend the flexi or retractable lead. Jerking with the retractable lead can cause discomfort and even medical issues for your dog. Letting your dog wander off on the full length of a retractable lead means you cannot reach your dog if you need to in a hurry. If another dog is coming your way and you do not have control of your dog that is just not a good situation. The pet parent can also get hurt with the retractable lead snapping on their hands or fingers. A six foot lead allows your dog space to sniff and keeps him close to you. Your dog senses your energy and feelings through the lead when you are in closer proximity to each other as well.

There is also the use of a collar (which all dogs need to have with proper ID tags) but also a harness can be helpful. Not all dogs are the same. My dogs are very strong and can pull me easily. I use a walking harness that clips to the leash at the front of their chest. This allows me to have control of their bodies and they do not feel a tug and pull sensation like they would if the leash clipped to the harness on their back. I don't want to teach my dogs to pull when I am walking them so this works well for us. It is important to find the leash and collar or harness that work best for you and your dog. Your trainer or your vet can help you.  

How do you get your dog to walk and not pull? This is the most common challenge when we begin walking our dogs. Dogs need to learn how to walk on a leash. A young puppy has a lot of energy and drive to play and run. The only way you can walk most dogs on a leash is to rain them. I support only positive training techniques to do this. You will need an abundance of low calorie healthy treats when you begin this training. You will also need an abundance of patience. Contacting a trainer who employs positive training techniques is very helpful to get you started. Once you have mastered the art of walking with your dog, you will enjoy many walks together. Your walks will be a pleasure for both of you.

A big plus to walking your dog is that you spend time together and that helps build the bond between you. Be  informed, be safe and have fun together!