Taking your dog for a walk is one of the great joys of dog ownership. It gives you a different perspective on the world as well as a new motivation for your regular exercise! It can also be a good opportunity to socialise – dog walkers have a great excuse to stop and chat, as well as ready made conversation starters walking with them!
If you’ve just got a dog or a puppy, then you can’t take them out walking straight away. Let’s take a look at a few of the things you need to do to prepare, so you can be ready for a good (and safe) walk.
If you have a new puppy, or you’ve adopted a dog then you need to make sure they’re fully vaccinated. This will protect them against common diseases that can affect dogs and also prevent them from passing such infections on. You’re not just protecting your dog, you’re protecting the whole population of dogs in your area!
At the same time as vaccinating your dog, your vet can make sure it’s microchipped. A microchip sits harmlessly under your dog’s skin and contains information about its name and your contact details, so if it gets lost it can be reunited with you quicker, and there’ll be no question about whether this is your dog or not – just make sure you keep your details updated in the database!
When you take your dog out for the first time, it might not be used to walking on a lead. It’s well worth practising at home – keeping your puppy on a long lead hooked to your belt as you move around the house to start getting them used to being attached to you!
Before you let your dog off the lead you need to make sure it knows to return to you – otherwise you might not see it again! Do some training at home with the stay command, both rewarding your dog for staying, and for running to you when you call! This should help when you let them off the lead in the park for the first time, but make sure you also bring a favoured toy and dog treats to capture their interest if needs be!
You’ll need to keep a close eye on your dog when it’s off the lead exploring. While it’s great to give your dog some freedom on walks, scavenging spoiled, infested or toxic food while exploring off lead might mean your dog keeps vomiting and has diarrhea after walks – or even more serious conditions! If someone’s left chicken bones from a takeaway by a bench in the park and your dog gets hold of them those bones could choke them or splinters could puncture their digestive tract!
Make sure you know what your dog is sniffing at while they’re exploring, and take the time to practice ‘drop’ commands to make sure they don’t eat anything dangerous to them.