Most dogs love being outside with the freedom to roam, so they don’t often need much encouragement leaving the house when it’s time for walkies.
But there are still things you can do to make the dog walking experience even better for them, as well as yourself and those around you.
Enjoy a change of scenery
It’s great having regular walks close to home, but most dogs enjoy discovering new sights, sounds and smells. Keep things interesting by introducing new routes.
The Forestry Commission, Canal & River Trust and publications such as Your Dog Magazine offer decent dog walking suggestions if you’re stuck on ideas where to go. And The Beach Guide is an excellent place to start if you’re looking for dog-friendly beaches near you.
Respect the rules
Everyone should be allowed to enjoy the outdoors. Being a responsible owner means keeping your dog under control to ensure they’re not being a nuisance to others.
While on your walk, you should also make sure your actions are considerate to the local community. Dog walking etiquette usually involves a little common sense, but The Countryside Code outlines what is required by law when you walk your dog.
Two things you should check before you leave is that your surname and address (including postcode) is attached to your dog’s collar (engraved ID tags are ideal), and you have plenty of poo bags to clean up after your dog in public spaces. Neglecting to do either could lead to a hefty fine.
Keep an eye out for wildlife
Allowing your dog time off the lead is important for their development, but always put them back on when a path sign tells you to, or if you can’t rely on your dog’s obedience.
Keeping your dog under tight control is important around wildlife and farm animals, especially during bird breeding or lambing season. By law, farmers are entitled to shoot any dogs attacking or chasing their livestock, and you could also be sued for compensation.
Even if you’re confident your dog is well behaved, it’s better to expect the unexpected around wildlife and keep them on a lead. That said, if protective cattle or horses are chasing your dog instead, it’s safer to drop the lead so they can easily run away.
If you have a puppy, get them into good habits early. An extra-long training lead should help establish boundaries to when and where they can run around, teach them how to behave around animals (including other dogs) and gives you a chance to practice that all-important recall in a controlled manner.
Keep your dog hydrated
If you’ve got an active dog that likes to run around, make sure they drink plenty of water, especially during hot weather. Either keep a supply on you or choose a walk where you know your dog can take regular drinks from a clean stream, pond or lake.
Also, be aware of what your dog is capable of. Don’t set off on a 10km walk if they’re too young, too old or have health problems. Know their limits and be gentle. Over-exertion could not only put your pooch’s wellbeing at risk, but lead to ongoing treatment.
Know what to do if your dog goes missing
It’s quite easy to lose your dog on a walk. All it takes is for them to chase a squirrel into the woods or follow a strong scent, then they’re out of sight before you’ve even noticed.
It’s important to remain calm. A few minutes can feel like a very long time in these situations, but it’s usually best to stay where you are and keep calling them. Most dogs will find their way back to you, but sometimes they can lose their direction if they’re focused on something else. If they don’t return after a while, search the area carefully.
If it’s a regular walk, go back to any familiar places you know they like or check the car park if you’ve driven. Some dogs are surprisingly good at finding their way back to the car.
If your dog is still missing, call your vet, police station or dog warden and give them the details on your dog’s ID tag. Consider making posters and flyers that you can put up or give out where possible.
If you have Churchill pet insurance, we can help you with the costs towards local advertising and for any suitable reward offered for the return of your lost or stolen dog. We can also compensate you if your dog isn’t found after 45 days.