Walking your dog might seem like a basic part of your dog parenting routine that you never gave much thought to. But there are probably a few things that you’re actually doing wrong. Dog walking seems like a simple enough task, but when it comes to dog walking mistakes, it’s all in the details.Wondering if you are making any mistakes when you walk your dog? Read on to learn about nine of the most common dog walking mistakes and how to correct or avoid them.
Dog Walking Mistakes
Letting Your Dog Lead
Are you walking your dog or is your dog walking you? Letting your dog lead can make them think they’re in charge. This dynamic could permeate other parts of your relationship.
Taking Too Short Or Too Long A Walk
We get it—sometimes it’s too cold out or you only have a few minutes between meetings. It’s important to be mindful of your dog’s specific walking needs. Older dogs or dogs with health issues might not want to stay out for too long. Healthy, energetic dogs might need to walk and play for a bit longer.
Taking the Same Route Every Day
Daily walks are a great opportunity for your dog to get some fresh air, exercise, and do their business. Walks also give your dog the chance to take in all the sights, sounds, and smells in their environment and they need various points of stimulation.
Not Maintaining Control of the Leash
Lots of things can go wrong with leashes—especially having too much or too little tension. Too much give can be unsafe if the dog runs off and too little can cause discomfort and lead to a tug of war.
Ill-Fitting Collar or Harness
A collar or harness that doesn’t fit properly can be uncomfortable, to say the least. Collars can actually injure a small dog’s trachea if they pull too hard—that’s why we recommend harnesses for smaller pups, as these put less pressure on the airway without compromising leash control.
If your dog wears a collar and tends to cough a lot on leash walks, compression of the trachea is likely the culprit. Focus on leash training to prevent pulling and switching to a harness will likely help too. When fitting a collar or harness, make sure to fit it snugly, but always allow two fingers to fit between the collar material and the body surface.
Leaving Them on The Leash the Whole Time
Leashes are necessary for the safety of your dog and others. But it’s good for your dog’s well-being to let them roam free for about 5 minutes if it’s safe. Be sure to follow the area’s on- and off-leash regulations.
Going Out Without Identification
You take your ID with you when you go out, right? It’s a good idea to have identification for your pup, too. You want to make sure that you can get your dog back if they wander too far while off-leash. You can choose a simple tag or go high tech with a microchip.
Letting Your Dog Bite The Leash
This might seem like a harmless habit, but this can actually be dangerous—many dog leashes have metal components that can damage your dog’s teeth. Biting can also cause your leash to wear out much faster.
Not Picking Up After Your Dog
This might seem like common sense, but even pet parents with the best intentions can run out of potty bags. You might not even realize that you’ve run out until it’s too late.
How to Avoid & Correct Dog Walking Mistakes
If you found yourself squirming a bit while learning about dog walking mistakes, don’t worry. Luckily for you, all these dog walking mistakes are easily corrected. Here’s how to tweak your routine and develop good dog walking habits:
Instead of letting your dog lead, adjust the leash so they can walk alongside you. Hold your leash in the hand opposite the dog and reward them with treats when they stay in step with you.
Figuring out the right amount of time to walk can be tricky. In general, the walk should last between 20 and 30 minutes, two or three times a day. Observe your dog’s behavior during walks—are they exhausted after 30 minutes?—and adjust your walk time accordingly.
A change of scenery will be good for you too. Explore your neighborhood further so you can change your daily route by including dog parks, cityscapes, beaches, and wooded areas into your rotation.
Using the right kind of leash can also help you gain more control. Retractable leashes might seem like the perfect way to adjust the tension during your walk, but the fast-moving cord can cause cuts and burns to both you and your dog. Plus, it can easily cause tangles and trip people and other dogs. Retractable leashes can also be more difficult for some pet parents to get a good grip on, as fumbling with the locking mechanism or a sudden yank from your dog can result in a dropped leash—if this happens, not only do you lose control of your pup, but the sound of the dropped leash retracting toward your dog often scares them and causes them to run away.
We recommend regular nylon leashes held relaxed by your side with relaxed shoulders. Training your pup not to pull (which keeps the leash tense and not relaxed) can take time, but it’s worth the investment for their safety and your own orthopedic health!
To determine the right fit for a harness, take your dog with you to try out the different styles in the store. For collars, make sure that there’s enough space to slide fingers underneath it while in use.
Letting your dog explore on their own gives them a sense of freedom and independence that’s good for their mental health. Try throwing a ball with your dog so they stay focused and don’t wander off.
Your dog shouldn’t have to bite or chew on its leash when there are plenty of other fun things to chew on. Consider carrying a chew toy or a teething ring to distract your dog during your next walk.
Who knew there was a wrong way to walk a dog? Walking your dog every day is a fundamental part of being a pet parent that should be fun for both of you. If you have any questions about how much exercise your dog should be getting, connect with a vet today.