Dogs are great walking companions, great personal trainers, and great nags. If you begin walking with your dog, you may soon find his tail is wagging your walking program. They are ready to walk when you are (unlike friends and family), will tow you down the trail, and let you know when it is time to lace up your sneakers.
Opt for formal classes, if they are available and affordable. Start while the dog is a puppy, and continue until the dog can be trusted off leash. Your dog can earn the AKC Canine Good Citizen certificate, which indicates a level of obedience and training attained. If attending classes is not possible, you may want to try training books, such as Carol Lea Benjamin’s Mother Knows Best, Surviving Your Dog’s Adolescence Compare Prices, or Dog Training in 10 Minutes Compare Prices. The end result of good training is a dog that is a pleasure to walk with — one that will sit, down and heel on command, as necessary. You really don’t want to be towed into the sunset at about 60 MPH!
Walking Your Dog on a Leash
If your dog is on a leash, it can’t get away and cause problems. Consider using a pinch collar while walking your dog, if he is a puller, to increase your control and comfort. Some walkers use a harness, and others find retractable leashes to be the best way to give the dog a little more slack, then reel them in as needed.
Are Dogs Allowed Where You Plan to Walk?
Check with the organizers of walking events you plan to attend. If walking in a park, call ahead to check to see if there are any restrictions. Note that dogs are sometimes allowed on trails, but not in shuttle buses or visitors’ centers.
Carry a Pooper Scooper
If you don’t have (or want to purchase) the actual tool, try a plastic bag. Many carry the plastic bags that newspapers sometimes come in. When the bag is placed over the hand, you can pick up what you have to, turn the bag inside out, and tie the end closed. Dispose of it properly. Zip-closure storage bags are another secure option.
Carry water for both you and your pet. You can use your hand as a water dish for him. Some walkers suggest using collapsible cups, inflatable water dishes, and zip-closure bags, as well.
Taking Time for Rest
Find a shady spot and take ten. Play with the dog, talk to other walkers, and cool down a bit. Dogs can’t sweat. They keep cool by panting, finding shady spots, walking in water, and drinking lots of water. If you are walking near water in the summer, find a safe place (not public beaches) and let your dog go swimming. If you drove to your walking spot, be sure not to leave your dog in a vehicle unattended if it’s warm out and you’re making stops on your way home.
Every dog should have a couple of forms of identification. Name tags and collars get lost. Tattoos and embedded micro-chips will back up the name tag. You should carry a clear photo of the dog, which can aid in recovery, should such a situation arise. Also, some areas of the country require you to carry your dog’s rabies certificate with you.
Is Your Dog Ready?
Before taking a dog on a 10K Volksmarch, consider if the dog is healthy enough, has the desire, and is trained enough to walk the distance at your side. You should get an OK from your veterinarian if your pooch has any sort of medical problem, is overweight, etc. Work up to the longer distances with him by doing the shorter distances first.
Dog walkers I’ve spoken to generally prefer country walks and trails that have sidewalks, or paths that are well off the road.
Walking your dog was written by Wendy Bumgardner for About.com.