January is Walk your Pet Month! What better way to start off the New Year, than with a resolution to walk your dog more often, or maybe reinforce some leash rules. Walking is a great activity for both you and your pet and allows you to bond with your dog.
Don’t have a dog? Try training your cat to walk on a leash for some fresh air, or set aside some extra time to play with your cat.
Walk times can be stressful for owners whose dogs have less than stellar behavior when meeting other dogs, or smelling tempting scents that cause the dog to dart from one side of the path to the other. When out walking with your dog, be sure to focus your attention on your friend at the end of the leash! Talking on your phone or texting family and friends is a sure-fire way for your dog to get away with bad behavior. Stay focused on your companion, frequently praise him for his good behavior, and he will start to pay attention to you. Be sure to pack treats to reward good behavior, especially if you are training your dog.
Avoid boredom – for both you and your pet! Walking the same route day after day can become a habit that is hard to break. Switch it up occasionally by walking a new route. You might be surprised at what changes are occurring in your neighborhood, and you might meet new people and new furry friends too!
If your dog is used to short walks and you would like to increase the length of your outings, gradually increase the time you are out walking. After a few weeks of gradually increasing the time out, you will increase your strength as well as your dog’s. If at any time your dog is slowing down or excessively panting, it is time to end the walk.
During the winter months, the days are short. This makes early morning and late afternoon/evening walks dark ones. If these are the times of day that you walk your dog, make sure that both you and your dog are visible to motorists, cyclists, and other dog walkers or pedestrians. There are many lighted collars or leashes (or clip on lights for collars) available; and if your dog wears a coat or sweater, be sure it has reflective tape on it. For your own safety, wearing a light colored jacket, or one with reflective tape ensures your safety as well.
Be sure to carry water for both you and dog, especially during warm weather and on long walks. Dogs can drink water from your cupped hands or you can carry a collapsible water dish or water bottle attachment.
If you find it hard to motivate yourself to walk, especially in the winter months, walk with a friend or find a group of dog walkers in the neighborhood. Both you and your dog benefit from a little socialization while you walk!