Many people take safety for granted when they are walking their dogs. They just attach the leash to Fido's collar and go out the door. But there are definitely steps any responsible dog owner should follow to ensure a safe, happy walk for both owner and pet.
Step 1 - Make sure the collar is adjusted properly so that it will not slip over your dog's head, even when pulled. There would be nothing worse than enjoying a pleasant walk with your dog and then having them pull out of their collar and run away. Just make sure you are still able to slip two fingers underneath it so that it's not too tight! Also, consider using a harness if your dog likes to pull. A harness could provide both comfort for your dog since it takes pressure off the neck, and more security for you during your walk.
Step 2 - If using a traditional leash, be sure to put your hand through the handle and then wrap the handle around your wrist for added security. And regardless of whether you are using a traditional leash or a retractable leash, never walk with it fully extended. Leaving the leash fully extended will not allow ample time or leverage to retract the leash and pull your pet in should an emergency arise. Giving your dog too much room will also allow them to possibly walk in areas where they shouldn't, such as the street.
Step 3 - Be sure to bring along water if your walk will be lengthy, and waste bags. Always allow your dog to rest and sit in the shade if they start to pant.
Step 4 - Plan the length and pace of your walk according to the age and health of your dog. Older dogs should be allowed to walk at a slower pace and for a shorter distance than younger, more agile dogs may want to.
Step 5 - If walking at night, it's a good idea for both you and your dog to wear some type of bright, reflective clothing or accessory. See our blog post on walking safely at night for more information on that.
Step 6 - Use caution when approaching other people with dogs. Only allow your dogs to meet if the other dog owner says it's ok. It's also smart to avoid stray and wild animals, as you never know what diseases or health issues they may carry and your dog's health needs to be your first concern.
Step 7 - Keep your dog on its leash at all times in public. Only allow them off-leash in areas that are specifically designated for off-leash use.