9 Essentials for Walking Your Dog

dog walkingJanuary is National Walk Your Dog Month! That's excellent news for those pet parents who have renewed their efforts to get in shape. Although walking with your dog seems like a routine activity, a good walk always starts with preparation and the right equipment. Therefore, today I would like to share with you some tips for having the best walk with your dog! 

1. Leashes:

Make sure that you select the best leash for your walking activities. I suggest a soft, standard 6-foot leash to start, and possibly a reflective or light-up leash for night walks. You want to stay away from leashes that are too long and don’t provide you with control. 

2. Collars:

Now it may now seem like there isn't much to think about when it comes to selecting a collar for your dog. However, I think the safest kind of collars are leather collars with a buckle. Collars that have a snap are nice, but sometimes they are hard to adjust and keep secure. Try to think about all scenarios, if your dog sees something in the distance and takes off running after it, will your collar hold? 

Additionally, make sure that your dog’s collar has their ID tags or your contact information embroidered on the collar. This is just an extra safety step because you never know what can happen. 

3. Harness:

While many pet parents use collars, a harness may be better suited for your dog’s needs. If so, be sure to select a harness that adjusts so that it will fit your dog appropriately, and provides cushion under the arm to avoid irritation.

4. Lights:

I love a good light up leash or collar for night walks. I think these are a good investment for fall and winter. In addition to these items, it is wise to bring a flashlight with you on your walks as a safety precaution. 

5. Gear for the Weather:

Right now, my biggest concern is making sure it isn't too cold when I am walking Rooney. However, since I live in Northern California, we don’t deal with snow or freezing temperatures, so I don’t have to worry too much. Rooney has a hoodie from PrideBites and a fleece from Gold Paw Fleece that help keep him warm on our walks.

If it's cold and your dog doesn't have a thick coat of fur, make sure they are wearing an extra layer to protect them. In addition to owning a fleece jacket, I would suggest a rain coat, a thicker jacket, and good boots to protect their feet. It’s difficult to get too far into a walk and then realize that you were underprepared for the weather. 

6. Treats: 

Even if you dog is well trained and doesn’t need treats to behave well on a leash, it is always a good idea to be prepared in case you need to distract them. You never know when you might encounter stray dogs, random raccoons, or other potential wildlife.

7. A buddy: 

Every time I walk with someone else, my walk is 2-3 times longer. Meaning, the more often I walk with my friends, the more exercise Rooney gets. Therefore, I try to schedule as many walks with my friends as possible. If they have a dog, even better! 

8. Pay Attention: 

I highly recommend not wearing headphones. It simply isn’t safe. Like I said, walking your dog is rewarding and fun, but you never know what can happen, and having all of your senses can be important in protecting yourself and your dog. 

9. Motivation: 

Somedays I enjoy listening to the quiet sounds of nature, but other days I need additional motivation to get moving and keep walking. In these cases, listening to music (not with headphones) or using a motivational app can really improve the frequency and distance of my walks with Rooney.

If you are just starting a regular walking routine with your dog, be sure to work your way up to your distance goals. If you are unsure of your dog’s endurance, please check with your veterinarian before taking on new challenges.

That’s my list! I hope that these items make your next walk the best walk yet!

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Positively Expert: Rachel Sheppard

Rachel Sheppard is the author and founder of My Kid Has Paws. She is a Social Media Manager, blogger, animal lover, volunteer, graduate student, and shoe collector.


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