Walking your dog can be one of the greatest pleasures in life

Walking your dog can be one of the greatest pleasures in life. You get outside, you get exercise, and you get to make your best friend very, very happy. Of course, some dog walks are better than others. Here are some tips for having more of the best kinds of walks.

1) Improve your dog’s comfort with walking on a leash

This means getting some dog training. You can learn how to do it online, from a book, or from a class. Classes are best. Check local doggie daycare facilities if they have any basic dog training classes. The American Kennel Club’s Good Citizen Certificate training is excellent. Being with other dogs will help you and your dog not only learn basic obedience, but it will teach you how to practice it out in “the real world”, among other dogs, instead of in the easier but less helpful environment of your home.

2) Get the right leash

Your dog needs to be on a strong leash no more than six feet long. The extendable leashes that go out 30 feet are really only okay when you are out on a hiking trail and no other dogs are around. If you are going for a walk through the neighborhood or in a park, you need the control of a well made, reinforced six foot leash. Dogs under 30 pounds can use the little half inch wide leashes. Dogs over 30 pounds, and especially dogs over 60 pounds need the wider one inch leashes. Make sure the clip is attached to the right part of your dog’s collar. If you attach it where the dog tag goes, with one strong pull your dog will be loose.

Another part of getting the right leash may involve a leash that doubles as a dog-training tool, or the kind of leash that is for dogs that tend to pull a lot. Avoid prong collars. A better way to control a dog that pulls is with something called a “gentle leader”. Its a loop that goes behind the back of your dogs head and over his nose. When he pulls, the pressure is applied to his nose. An insistent dog can still pull, but they respect pressure on their nose much more than pressure around their neck. Having a gentle leader also means a really riled-up dog won’t make those gasping noises that happen when it is pulling so hard that its airway is being affected.

3) Carry doggie bags

These are, ahem, not the kind you get at restaurants. One of the primary reasons to walk a dog is to let it relieve itself. Letting your dog go on someone’s yard is not okay, and it is also not okay to let your dog pee on someone’s flowers or even on their mailbox. This does not make for good neighborly relations. So carry at least three doggie bags at all times, use them, and dispose of them properly. Using a doggie bag and then leaving it by the side of the road is not acceptable.

4) Be mindful of other dogs

Many of us grew up with the idea that every dog got along with every other dog, that all dogs were good playmates and had no issues with other dogs. That’s just not true. Not all dogs get along, and you are definitely going to run into dogs that are either afraid or aggressive. Don’t blame the dog or the owner, just move your dog out of close proximity to them. Stepping ten feet off the path to give them a wide berth is good. Stay as calm and as confident as you can — your dog will be looking to you to get a read of whether or not they need to go into defensive mode.

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