Updated: Feb 18, 2022
Some winter days, dog walks can feel like more of a chore than a good time. During these coldest and shortest days of the year, we all need an excuse to jazz up the daily stroll with the pup and get outside regularly with our pets (and it’s a great New Year’s resolution, too).
Dog Walking Tips
Be the pack leader. Be in charge when you walk your dog. While walking your dog, remember to use confident body language—head up, shoulders back—and don’t let your dog walk in front of you. Your dog should walk beside you or slightly behind. If your dog does pull ahead, shouting won’t get them to return to your side. Instead, reinforce good behavior by rewarding your doggo with a treat when they’re walking by your side to keep them in stride with you—and consider a sturdy, no-pull harness to help discourage pulling.
Choose the right leash. Choose the right leash for you and your dog and your specific circumstances to set you up right for positive walking experiences. There are many types of leashes (think multi-dog leashes, hands-free leashes, and good old-fashioned heavy-duty nylon styles)—the one that’s best for you is the one you feel most comfortable holding and keeping control of your dog with. Sometimes, shorter leashes work better to keep your dog safe.
Practice leash lessons. Whichever type of leash you use, keep it short, but not too tight. Your dog will be discouraged from bolting, dawdling, or wandering, and you can maintain close communication and control. Have a serial puller? There are lots of safe products on the market to help you train your dog not to pull. Until your dog knows how to walk without pulling, view walks as training sessions, and keep them short, frequent, and low stress.
Bring the necessities. Make the walk pleasant for you and your dog, this month and any month. Always carry bags for cleaning up and disposing of doggie poop—leaving dog waste is not only a health hazard, but in many cities, it’s a code violation (plus, it’s just plain rude). Don’t forget to hydrate by carrying water for yourself and your dog, especially in warmer weather, and be sure to pack your dog’s favorite bite-size treats for rewarding good behavior away from home.
Change it up. To make walks more fun for you and your dog, rove a little—travel off the beaten path by taking your dog on different routes, going to cool places like the dog park or a friend’s house, and taking walks with buddies—borrowing a friend’s dog or asking another owner to join you on your walk.
Know how far to go. How much walking time is enough for your dog? This is a decision you’ll make based on your dog’s breed, age, physical condition, and time of year. Dogs are most sensitive to exertion at the beginning and end stages of their lives, but they will give you clues as to whether they are comfortable, ready to head home, or up for a few more laps. If you have any questions about your dog’s condition and ability, check in with your vet.
Challenge yourself. Train your dog to walk on a leash with the kids. However you do it, walking your dog—this month and year-round—is one of the easiest ways to bond with your pet and get the mutual benefit of exercise—above all, we hope you enjoy the time together!
Pets and People, Saving Each Other™
HSNT’s mission is to act as an advocate on behalf of all animals and to ensure their legal, moral and ethical consideration and protection; to provide for the well-being of animals who are abandoned, injured, neglected, mistreated or otherwise in need; to promote an appreciation of animals; and to instill respect for all living things.