Tips for Better Dog Walks
written by Ellie Walker
Do you have to spell out W-A-L-K to avoid your pup bouncing off the walls? Then it’s probably safe to say that going for a walk is the best part of your dog’s day! To take this daily treat to the next level, take a look at our top seven tips for better dog walks.
Use a head halter to stop pulling
If your dog pulls excessively on their leash, perhaps to the point that they’re injuring you or themselves, rest assured that you’re not alone. Excessive leash pulling is a common issue that has an easy solution: Head halters. Instead of attaching their leash directly to their collar, you can attach it to a head halter that goes around their muzzle and secures behind their ears. Head halters are a great training device because when they start to pull, the harness tightens around their muzzle which allows you to gently redirect your dog’s movement. When they stop pulling, the harness loosens again. If you want to try a head harness, two popular brands are Halti and Gentle Leader.
Avoid using a retractable leash
Another tip for better dog walks is to swap your retractable leash for a short, non-retractable one. Dogs tend to be harder to manage on retractable leashes, as the further away they are from you, the less control you have. They can also increase pulling behavior because the retractable function encourages your pup to pull to get more freedom. Retractable leashes also cause the potential for serious injury to yourself and your pup, such as:
- Rope burns
- Neck injuries if your dog suddenly reaches the end of the leash
Swapping retractive leashes for a short, non-retractable one makes it easier for you to guide and communicate with your pup during the walk, which in turn makes the experience more enjoyable for everyone!
Help them stay hydrated
Feeding your dog a food that is naturally high in moisture, such as any of our Freshpet recipes, is a great way to keep them at a healthy hydration baseline, but some days they’ll need a little bit extra. After extensive activity, such as going for a walk or playtime, or on days where the temperature is high, it’s important that you encourage your dog to drink more water. The amount of water your dog needs to stay hydrated is calculated by multiplying 60mL by the number of kilograms of body weight. In other words, for every 10 pounds of body weight, a dog should be receiving a little more than 1 cup of water or 9 ounces. To help your pup reach – or surpass – this intake, try carrying a walk-friendly water bowl, like this one from MalsiPree when you leave the house. For more tips on how you can get your dog to drink more water, check out the blog we wrote for National Pet Hydration Awareness Month.
Determine the best way to help your dog avoid distractions
If you have a dog that is easily distracted while on a walk, you know that it can be hard for them to get enough exercise when they’re stopping every few feet. To ensure that your dog gets the exercise they need, you’ll want to determine the best way to help your dog stay focused on the task at hand. Three popular options include:
- Increase your distance: If you know specific things that distract your dog, such as garbage on the street or other animals, keep a wide berth.
- Increase your speed: If you maintain a brisk pace throughout the walk, your pup may not have time to notice potential distractions
- Redirect their attention: If you notice a potential distraction, use a high-value treat such as our Dog Joy or Dog Nation treats to redirect your dog’s attention. If they make it past the distraction without issue, you can reward them with a tasty snack.
Increase your visibility
If you’re walking at night or when it’s rainy, visibility is greatly reduced so it’s harder for you and your pup to be seen by passing cars, bikes, or other types of traffic. To avoid an accident, it’s critical that you find ways to help you stand out, such as:
- Wearing reflective gear: Reflective vests and arm bands can easily be worn on top of your jacket and your dog can wear a reflective harness and leash.
- Using a light-up collar: There are a number of rechargeable LED collars, like this one by Illiumiseen that offer exceptional visibility.
- Carrying a flashlight: Not only can rain and darkness make it hard for others to see you, but they can also make it difficult for you to see as well! Carrying a flashlight will ensure that you can safely see the road ahead.
Protect your pup’s paws
If the ground is too hot or too cold, it can be uncomfortable for your dog’s sensitive paws. To protect their paws and ensure a more enjoyable walk, opt for either a pair of boots or paw wax. Two brands we recommend are:
- Muttluks: With their flexible rubber soles, exceptional grip, and choice of fleece, mesh, or waterproof lining, they have a perfect pair for any season or weather condition.
- Musher’s Secret: If your dog won’t wear boots, Musher’s Secret is a great alternative. Made from an all-natural, human-grade wax, it creates a barrier that causes water to roll right off of your pet’s paw. It also gives them a layer of protection against hot pavement and sand during the warmer months!
Don’t forget your compostable poop bags
Our final tip for better dog walks is also one that benefits the planet. Instead of using your regular plastic poop bags, try switching to a more earth-friendly option. Compostable poop bags are made of natural plant starch and contain no toxic materials – just make sure that the package is labeled as “fully compostable”, not “biodegradable”. Unfortunately, the term “biodegradable” is a bit misleading, because in order for these types of bags to break down they require specific conditions which are often not met in landfills.
Going for a walk provides both mental and physical benefits for your dog and yourself. We hope that these tips for better dog walks help you maximize the impact of your pup’s favorite daily activity!