January is Walk Your Dog Month! Of course, you could say every month is Walk Your Dog Month. That’s not wrong! Dogs need to be walked daily for sanitary reasons, as well as for exercise and mental stimulation.
Here are some tips from a local De Pere, WI veterinarian on taking Fido out:
Keep Walks Fun For Fido
Walks are important for exercise, but they also provide your pup with valuable stimulation. Change your route up regularly. Just taking Fido to the same spots every day isn’t very exciting for him. This is more important than many people realize. Boredom in dogs can lead to other behavioral issues. If your pup is bored, he may try to amuse himself by digging or chewing.
Who says you can’t have some fun walking your canine companion? We have a few tips for this as well.
Always Put Safety First When Walking Your Dog
Always put safety first. When walking on the side of the road, position Fido to the outside, and, if you can, walk towards oncoming traffic. It’s important for you to see what’s coming! Also, don’t let your canine buddy get in front of you when you are crossing driveways, intersections, or parking lot entrances. Finally, if you listen to music or podcasts while walking your pooch, keep the volume low enough to hear what’s going on around you. Stay in busy, well-lit areas after the sun has set. Save those explorations for later.
We’d also recommend teaching your pet the command to Drop It or Leave It. You don’t want him picking up that chicken wing he found at the park!
Hack Your Dog Walking Routine
Here’s our number one tip: Designate a specific bag or jacket for walking your furry pal, and keep the pockets filled with things you may need.
Here are a few suggestions:
You may also want to put a carabiner on the end of Fido’s leash. That way, if you want to stop to talk, or perhaps sit on a park bench with your pup, you can easily clip your canine pal on to something. Just don’t leave your four-legged friend unattended!
Get The Right Gear To Walk Fido
Make sure Fido has a comfortable collar or harness. There is a good reason why harnesses have become so popular. They will not restrict your pet’s breathing if he pulls, making him more comfortable. The collar also prevents Fido from slipping out of his gear.
Retractable leashes can be great, but they aren’t right for every occasion. Don’t use these near potential hazards, such as busy roads or steep cliffs. Also, they can be dangerous in crowded places because Fido could get tangled up with another dog, a person, or even a tree. Always carry another leash. Always take the lead in if you come across another dog: you don’t want Fido getting tangled up.
Some of our canine buddies need more specialized gear. For instance, a reactive dog may require a muzzle. Dogs with small heads, like Greyhounds, might need a Martingale collar, while small dogs should always be harnessed rather than leashed. You should ask your De Pere, WI veterinarian for specific advice.
As for you, be sure to wear shoes or boots with good tread.
Know The Benefits Of Those Regular Walks
First and foremost: in the absence of a yard, walks are essential for sanitary reasons.
Activity is also important. In order to stay healthy and happy, dogs need regular exercise. The amount and type of exercise your dog needs depends on his age, size, breed, and health. Some pups need an hour of vigorous exercise every day. Others will be fine with a short walk every day. For specific information, please consult your veterinarian.
Enrichment: Walks provide mental stimulation, and also let Fido enjoy a change of scenery. Fido will also benefit from the mental stimulation he gets from sniffing, well, pretty much everything in the world. Dogs get a lot of information from their noses, so nosing around that tree down the road could be a very educational experience for him. (Think of it as a doggy version of reading a daily newspaper.)
Don’t Think A Yard Erases The Need For Walks
Got a yard? Great! You might not need to walk Fido as much as you would if you didn’t have that outdoor area. However, he still needs daily strolls. If you have a yard and are taking time to play with your pet, Fido probably won’t become extremely distressed if you skip a walk here and there if you have a yard. However, if you often skip walking your dog, it may cause problems.
Choose The Right Walking Schedule
How often you should walk your pet will depend on Fido’s age, size, and health. It will also change a bit over time. Puppy owners need to take their pets out several times a day, especially while housetraining. Adult dogs may only need to go out a few times a day, though they shouldn’t go more than 8 hours without a walk.Seniors need shorter, but more frequent walks.
Consult your vet for specific advice.
Protect Your Dog From Weather
Whenever it’s hot or cold outside, you’ll need to take extra precautions. In summer, bring water whenever you’re going to be out for more than a few minutes.
It’s also important to be careful about the terrain. In summer, hot asphalt or tar can burn your pet’s toe beans. Fido’s paws will also need extra attention when it’s cold: salt, sand, ice, and chemical de-icers can cause chemical burns and blisters.
Try to keep your pup on soft surfaces, no matter what time of year it is.
We’d recommend keeping your pup’s nails and toe fur tufts trimmed, and using paw balm or wax on his paws to keep them moist and protected from dry air. Ask your De Pere, WI veterinarians for more information.
Reap The Rewards Of Walking Your Pet!
Even short walks can have a significant impact on your health. For instance, people with dogs tend to be slimmer than those without dogs. Some other ‘pawesome’ perks of walking your pup include improved mental health, reduced stress, better physical fitness, better sleep, and lower risk of heart disease. That’s pretty ‘pawesome!’
Bring The Right Gear
Even if you’re just taking a stroll around the block, you’ll want to pack a few things. You may want to pack:
Walking your dog shouldn’t be something you think of as a chore. It’s a chance to hang out with your four-legged buddy and spend some quality time with him. You can also use the time to reinforce your pet’s training with treats, or just relax and unwind.
We are here to help you if you have any questions about your dog’s health or care. Please feel free to reach out to us, your De Pere, WI pet hospital, with any questions or concerns about your pet’s health or care.