We all know that regular dog walks are essential for our dog’s overall heath, providing both physical exercise and mental stimulation. But sometimes just a simple walk can seem impossible when life problems get in the way! Lets take a look at commonly encountered problems when walking your dog, and find solutions to get you back out walking again.
Nowhere to walk?
We’d all love to live near miles of countryside trails and forest tracks. But in reality, many dog owners now live in apartments in towns and cities. This can make finding new routes to walk your dog difficult. You may feel that you are stuck with walking round the same streets every day. If you and your dog are bored with trudging around the same walkways, have a look at some of these ideas to spice up your route:
- Hop onto public transport: If your local transport network allows pets on board, this can be a great way to open up your horizons! Find a transport route near you and see where it takes you – a doggy play paddock, a new countryside walk, or even to a friend’s house for a sociable walk.
- Ask local experts: Next time you are in the pet store, groomers or veterinarians, find out if anyone has any suggestions of local walking routes. This is a great way to discover hidden gems which might transform your daily walk!
- Walk with friends: Although you and your dog mean the world to each other, some new company is always welcome. Walking with a friend is a great chance to socialize whilst keeping you and your dog fit. You’ll find the miles fly by with some good conversation!
Meeting other dogs on your walk
Even if you have the best-behaved and most well-trained dog in the world, meeting other dogs can be a problem when out walking. Fear of crossing paths with larger, aggressive or reactive dogs may make you stick to familiar safe routes. It can be difficult to avoid unwanted encounters with other pooches while out walking, especially if a dog comes towards you which is not restrained on a leash.
Many dogs are nervous and timid when meeting new dogs. Often this is because they were not socialized with other dogs when younger. No matter how much training you do, they may never be comfortable when meeting strange dogs. If this sounds like your dog, then think about ways to help inform other dog owners that your dog may not welcome unwanted attention.
Most dog owners are very considerate, and would not wish to deliberately upset your dog. Inspired by The Yellow Dog Project, collars, leads and vests are available which inform other dog owners that your canine friend needs a bit of space. Some dog parks also have a ‘leash-only’ rule, which can be helpful when trying to avoid face-to-face confrontations with other dogs.
Fitting in walks around your lifestyle
Walking the dog is just one of many daily chores – although of course time with your beloved pooch should never feel like a chore! But we also need to work, eat, shop, and socialize, and the twice-daily dog walk can start to feel like another thing to cram into our busy lifestyles.
- Shopping: If you find you need to pop to the shops after work, why not take your dog with you for a stroll so you can both stretch your legs? Many shopping centers are now dog-friendly, especially pet stores, and dogs are allowed inside with their owners. Make sure you keep your pooch on a short leash to avoid any damage to stock. If the store doesn’t allow pets inside then it is not advisable to leave your dog outside unattended, due to the risk of theft. See if a friend, neighbour or family member wants to walk to the store with you. Then you can take it in turns to watch the dog while you shop.
- Work: If you are lucky enough to be permitted to take your dog into work, see if you can fit a walk into your commute or your lunch break. This is a great way to break up the working day or unwind after a long shift in the office.
- Socializing: The great news here is that many restaurants and bars are now dog-friendly, so you don’t have to leave your pet home alone while you’re having fun! It is a good idea to walk your dog to the restaurant to allow them to use up some energy first. They’ll then be ready to relax with you while you enjoy some food and drink. Take along a water bowl, light blanket and a chewy toy to keep your dog comfortable and entertained.
Lets face it – life is busy and things don’t always go to plan! So if you only have limited time to spare, what is the most effective way to use it to fulfil your dog’s needs?
There is no one answer to this, as each dog is different. If you’ve got the type of dog that has unlimited energy, then 20 minutes walking round the block on a leash is not really going to expend much energy. Could you use this time more productively to provide physical and mental stimulation? Here are some great ideas to get you started:
- Playing in the yard – sprinting, playing fetch, ‘hide and seek’ with toys and treats
- Pop to the local dog park to play ball, Frisbee or zoomies
- Play games and exercises in the home, such as running up and down the stairs
It is very likely that you are not the only person with limited time. Try teaming up with a friend or neighbor to share dog walking duties. Make sure your dogs are well socialized first with some play dates at home or walking together. You can then schedule dates when you walk each other’s dogs at the same time as your own.
If your dog needs more exercise another solution can be to hire the services of a local dog-walker. This could be on a regular basis or just for those days when you run out of time.
We all love a walk in the warm spring sunshine or on a fresh autumnal day, but sadly the weather isn’t always like that! Our dogs need exercise whatever the weather. With some simple adaptations we can make the most of exercising whatever the weather.
Recently we’ve all become a lot more aware of the problems of walking dogs in hot weather. Dogs do not cope well with high temperatures, and heatstroke is a common and very serious problem. Remember that your dog cannot sweat to lose body heat, nor can they take their furry coat off!
If hot weather is forecast, plan your day to walk at the coolest times of day. Normally this would be first thing in the morning or in the evening. Check that the pavements are cool enough for your dog to walk on safely to avoid burnt paws. Pop your hand on the pavement for five seconds – if you can’t hold your hand there comfortably then it is too hot for your dog.
Avoid strenuous exercise in warm weather, especially with flat-faced breeds and overweight dogs. Stick to a gentle stroll in shady areas and longer grass. Most dogs will appreciate a paddle in some cool water as well.
Rain and mud
Unlike humans, many dogs are not at all bothered by walking in the rain! Wet weather opens up a whole new world of scents to your dog, so get your waterproofs on and get out there.
If your dog feels the cold or dislikes getting wet, then a simple raincoat can help keep them cosy and dry. Keep the walk short and fun and they’ll gradually start to get over their dislike of rainy weather.
With rain inevitably comes mud, which leads to wet and dirty paws. These will not only muddy up your house but can also be uncomfortable for your dog. When heading out for a rainy walk leave a wet cloth and dry towel by the door. When you return to the house, you can give your dog a wipe clean and dry them off before they enter the house.
Snow and ice
Cold weather brings snow, sleet and ice, which can make walking your dog hazardous and uncomfortable.The most important thing is to make sure that you’re both warm and safe when walking in snowy weather. Both you and your dog should wear clothing which is warm, waterproof and reflective.
If it is snowing keep your dog on a lead unless you are sure there aren’t areas of deep snow and drifts. Don’t allow your dog to go onto frozen ponds or lakes. The ice may look thick but it may not be strong enough to take their weight.
In icy and snowy weather, sidewalks and roads may have been treated with salt and grit. This can cause irritation to your dog’s paws. Make sure that you wipe your dog’s stomach, legs and feet after a walk in cold weather.
Dog walking reimagined
Do you find that you’re stuck in a rut with the same old walks? Struggling to find the time to keep your dog exercised? Or worried about meeting other dogs while out and about? We hope we’ve given you some great ideas to keep active and get over those dog-walking problems, so you and your best friend can get out and active again!