Walking your dog is a common everyday activity that provides many benefits for both you and your dog. But you need to be aware of dog walking hazards.
Dog walks allow both of you to exercise and enjoy the great outdoors while allowing your dog to relieve themselves if needed.
Your dog will also enjoy exploring the sights and smells of the outdoors alongside the exercise, which will tire them out and make them more manageable at home, which is another added benefit for you.
Of course, the best benefit is the opportunity for your bond to grow as you spend time together daily with this routine. Walking your dog isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, however, and there are several things that you should watch out for and prepare for.
Cars driving past, other dogs, litter, and more can potentially harm your pup in one way or another. We’ll discuss everything from the hidden dangers of damaged sidewalks to common toxic plants to watch for to help keep you and your dog safe on your next walk.
Damaged or hot sidewalks
Over time, sidewalks will naturally degrade, as all things do when exposed to the raw elements. However, if this damage is hidden or more subtle, it could pose a significant risk to you and your dog.
As you’re walking, look for any signs of damaged sidewalks, such as excess dirt, pieces of cement, open holes, and more. If you spot one, maneuver your dog away and try to avoid it yourself.
If there is no good way around it, head home or take a new route. Report the damaged sidewalk for repairs.
Another dog walking hazard emerges on hot days — if the temperature outside is at least 85 degrees and the pavement hasn’t had time to cool, then it may not be safe for you to take your dog for a walk at that moment. You can rest your hand on the ground to check if the cement is safe for your dog. If it’s too hot for you to touch or it could get hot quickly if you leave it there, don’t walk your dog until later or have them wear protective booties or dog shoes.
Taking them for a walk when the temperature is too hot can also put them at risk for heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and other harmful heat-related conditions.
While some dogs may fear cars, others may not and either chase them or see no problems running in front of them, which is a terrifying prospect.
Walking your dog using a leash and harness is an excellent first step in keeping them safe from the dangers of the road. However, this won’t work if they somehow sneak out of the house, the leash breaks or any other accidents occur, which is why training is essential.
You can use many ways and techniques to teach your dog that the road is dangerous. One of these is teaching your dog to sit.
Having them sit while a vehicle passes by is a great way to curb any excitement they may exhibit while temporarily drawing their attention back to you.
You could also reward them for not chasing the vehicle and remaining calm, though this may only sometimes work. Consider contacting a dog trainer for advice if you need help training your pup.
Other dogs and people
While dogs are different, they are generally social and love making new friends.
While this is adorable when you have visitors or visit someone else, it can quickly become problematic if they show less excitement while passing other dogs or strangers.
It can also be an issue if your dog is aggressive toward certain people or dogs.
Of course, the best way to prevent these issues is to train your dog to ignore other dogs.
First, try to tire your dog out with a walk since this will make them more receptive to training as they won’t have the energy to explore, get distracted, and run off randomly to play.
Also, bring a leash along with their favorite treats to reward them. You’ll then want to train them to run to you when you call their name, to sit and stay, to pay attention to you, and to do everyday tasks like that.
After that, take them to places where you can keep your distance from dogs. Once you’ve employed the proper training to keep them calm, you can start training them with dogs closer to them.
You can use the same training to calm them down around other people.
Toxic plants and chemicals
While you may keep your yard full of dog-friendly plants and avoid using artificial pesticides and other potentially harmful chemicals on your lawn, other people living around you may choose to use them.
This is usually fine, as some of the plants your neighbors choose to plant are gorgeous or beneficial to local ecosystems, and many people prefer to use pesticides to keep insects off them. However, many of these plants and chemicals can harm your beloved pooch.
Some common toxic dog plants include tulips, lilies of the valley, aloe, and irises. This source provides a long list of plants you should keep your dog away from and lists some symptoms you’ll see if they ingest one.
As for the chemicals, this is harder. Some lawn chemicals stink, and you can easily keep your dog away from these yards, but others are much harder to notice.
The best practice to avoid this dog walking hazard is to take some walks at varying times of day and year and see who does and doesn’t spray their yards, then keep your dogs off those lawns.
Avoid dog walking hazards
Many dog walking hazards you encounter can be avoided, but it’s a good idea to be prepared just in case something unexpected happens.
Train your dog to come when you call, to sit and stay, and to give you their full attention when you use a specific word. Also, teach them to drop what they’re holding or eating when you say so.
Watch for other dogs, people, cars, and litter, and take the appropriate actions to help keep you, your dog, and others safe. These tips should help you and your dog stay safe against many things you can encounter on your walk.
With them in mind, we hope your next walk is enjoyable and safe for you and your beloved pup.