Walking Your Dog – A Daily Routine That May Be More Important Than You Might Think

City walks are the principle form of exercise for urban pets. Try to find a nearby park or enclosed area where you can let your dog stretch his legs for a few minutes, off the lead. If this is impossible, buy an extra-long leash and seek a safe spot where he can roam within its limits. This is unfortunately easier said than done, since more and more cities are banning dogs from wider areas. Dog owners can strengthen their position by respecting a few rules when walking their pets on the street.

–    Since most dogs feel the urge to relieve themselves shortly after they are taken out of doors, plan your walk to start with suitable stations.

–    Train your dog to relieve himself in the gutter, and walk him on the curb side of the sidewalk so that you can pull him into the gutter if necessary.

–    Always carry a few plastic bags with you. If your dog should make “a mistake” on the sidewalk, slip your hand into the bag as if it were a glove, scoop up the mistake, then pull the bag inside out in order to enclose it.

–    Never cross the street against a traffic light. Even if the light is green, it is better to wait for the beginning of the next green phase in order to have plenty of time for crossing.

–    Try to avoid rush hours and crowded places. When you are unavoidably caught in a crowd, keep your dog close at heel on a short leash, or if he is small enough, carry him in your arms.

–    Never let your pet greet a passing dog if the encounter would cause a pedestrian traffic jam, nor let him make advances to strangers. Some people, believe it or not, do not like dogs.

Suburban walks aren’t much different from those in the city. The vehicle traffic may be less, but it is even more dangerous because it moves faster. Always keep your dog on a leash and under control. If he is well-trained, you can run the risk of unleashing him in selected safe spots, but always be prepared to snap on the leash if necessary, and always leash to cross the street.

Your dogs greatest freedom and enjoyment will be had with walks in the woods, the mountains, or along the beach. The woods are full of fascinating sights and scents for a dog. Let him roam on his own, but call him back when he gets out of sight. In the mountains, your dog will be more sure-footed if he is unleashed. Small terriers are in their element in rocky places and find footholds that would never support your weight. At the same time, many dogs have an instinct for finding passages through apparently impenetrable country, and are excellent guides.

The beach is a great place for giving your dog a good long run. Unfortunately, many beaches are out of bounds for dogs during the swimming season, sometimes all year round. Shingle beaches and pebbly ones are hard on a dog’s pad. Even more dangerous is the risk cuts from broken bottles and picnic litter. Small dogs are light enough to scamper over such debris unharmed, but it represents a real chance to heavy breeds. Steer your dog clear of debris when you can, and check his paws when you get home.