The Leash You Can Do for Your Dog: Dog Walks

Walking the dog is more than just a yo-yo trick! Sometimes it’s a necessity, particularly if you live in the city and don’t have a yard. Sometimes it’s just for fun or to go out and get a little fresh air. A walk with your dog can also be a bonding experience — and not just for you and the dog, but for the whole family. Some of my happiest memories are of my wife, three kids and our three-legged dog, Rocco, strolling around the lake near our house when the weather is nice. The exercise can’t be beat and the together time, without modern distractions like TV and cell phones, helps cement a family.

Here are a few tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your dog walking time and avoid missteps along the way:

  • Beat the heat: Exercise is almost always good for you, but those 100 degree days with 500 percent humidity are not the day to go for a stroll. Some breeds, like English Bulldogs, Pugs and Pekingese (with short faces and little or no nose) can’t take the heat and can die from heat stroke, so stay home and stay cool when it is a scorcher. Any dog can be affected by heat stroke, but these snub-nosed breeds (called brachycephalics) are highly susceptible.
  • Let the dog be your guide: Don’t go on a forced march with an out-of-condition dog. If your dog hasn’t been on the trail for a while, why not warm up to that five-mile hike with a few shorter ones? You don’t want to get halfway out and have to carry a pooped pooch all the way back to the car. Bring along some water and collapsible bowl (pet supply stores all carry them) and stick to the shade when the weather is hot and sunny.
  • Get some discipline: Admit it — you’ve seen people yanking and tugging at their poor dogs, and other cases where the dog is the one talking the people for a walk. Don’t be that person! Enrolling in an obedience class and learning some basic dog walking etiquette can make it a much more fun experience for everyone. Here are some starter tips:
  • Have an exit strategy: If you or the dog gets injured while out and about, do you have a way to call for help or get everyone back to safety? Obviously, this is not a problem for a walk around the block (unless you live in a really bad neighborhood), but if you plan on hitting the open trail, make sure you can get yourself and your pooch back in one piece.
  • Keep the bugs off: Fleas and ticks live out there in the big world, and as nice as a walk is, that’s how they can jump on your pet and start an infestation.  Use an easy and effective once-a-month topical flea and tick treatment like SENTRY Fiproguard and avoid World War Flea!
  • Prepare for the day after: Our dog Rocco loves to romp and play at doggy day care, but boy is he sore the next day! Since my wife and I are both veterinarians, we have prescription meds we can give him for the day after aches. Talk to your veterinarian about your exercise plan and if any medications might help with the bumps, bruises and soreness that can happen afterwards.

I don’t see a downside to it: taking your dog for a stroll around the block or down the Appalachian Trail is about the best thing you can do for your dog, your family and yourself. Why not start today?

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