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Walk Your Dog Month

January 15, 2024

January is Walk Your Dog Month! Of course, one could say that every month is Walk Your Dog Month. That isn’t incorrect! Dogs need to be walked daily, not just for sanitary reasons, but for exercise and mental stimulation. Read on as a local Metairie, LA vet offers some tips on taking Fido for a stroll.

Why Is It Important To Walk My Dog?

Unless you have a yard, walks are necessary for sanitary purposes. However, that isn’t the only reason they are important! Fido also needs the exercise, stimulation, and change of scenery. Walks are also great for bonding!

One reason for this is simple exercise. Just like people, dogs need proper activity to stay happy and healthy. The amount and type of exercise your dog needs will depend on his age, size, breed, and health. Some pups need as much as an hour of vigorous activity every day. For others, a short daily stroll will suffice. Ask your vet for specific information.

Walks also provide mental stimulation. They give Fido a chance to enjoy a change of scenery, and spend some quality time with you. Of course, for many pups, the chance to chase squirrels is an added bonus. (More on that later.)

Do I Still Need To Walk My Dog If I Have A Yard?

Absolutely! You may not need to walk Fido as much as you would if you didn’t have that outdoor spot. If you just want to let your pooch pee after dark, it makes sense to just let him out. 

Pets need exercise and stimulation. Just going out to the same spots every day isn’t very exciting for your pooch. That can lead to boredom, which in turn can cause other behavioral issues. For instance, if your canine companion gets bored, he may try to amuse himself by digging or chewing. 

What Gear Should I Use For Walks?

First and foremost: make sure that your pooch has a good, comfy harness or collar and a sturdy leash. Harnesses have become more popular than collars, and with good reason. They won’t restrict your pet’s breathing if he pulls, which is of course more comfortable for him. Fido also can’t slip out of the collar.

As far as leashes, retractable leashes are very popular now. These are fine in some situations, but can be dangerous in others. You don’t want to use these in any areas that could be dangerous, such as near riverbanks, busy roads, or cliffs. They can also be hazardous in crowded places, as Fido could get wrapped up around another dog, a person, or even a tree. Always keep another leash with you.

If your canine pal is prone to bolting, you can give yourself an added level of control by using two leashes.

Some dogs may have specific needs. For instance, a reactive dog may need to be muzzled. Pups with small heads, such as Greyhounds, may require special collars, known as Martingales, while little dogs should always be harnessed, rather than leashed. Ask your Metairie, LA vet for specific advice.

How Often Should I Walk My Dog?

This one isn’t one-size-fits-all. The schedule will also change over time. 

If you have a puppy, you’ll need to take the little guy out every few hours, especially as you are housetraining. Adult dogs may only need to go out a few times a day. Seniors often need shorter, but more frequent walks. 

That said, we would say that adult dogs should never go more than about 8 hours without a walk. Ask your vet for specific advice.

Even if you do have a fenced yard, we would recommend walking your dog at least once a day, for about 15 to 20 minutes.

How Do I Stop My Dog From Hauling Me?

Fido is a very good boy, but he isn’t perfect. Our canine pals do have a few bad habits, such as pulling. 

To break this habit, change direction every time your dog hauls you. This can get tedious, but that’s why it works. Eventually, your pet will figure out that pulling not only doesn’t get him where he wants to go, but actually gets him further away.

If you are having difficulty breaking this bad habit, consult your Metairie, LA vet or a pet behaviorist.

How Do I Keep Safe When Walking My Dog?

Your first priority should always be safety: both your own and your dog’s. There are a few things to keep in mind here.

Be vigilant. Stay alert and aware about what is going on around you. Don’t let your dog out of your sight. If you like to listen to music or podcasts, make sure that you haven’t turned the volume up too high. You need to be able to hear things like brakes, shouting, or barking.

Pay Attention To The Terrain: Steer your pet around things like broken glass and litter, and watch for things like holes or wires. Depending on where you are, you may also need to keep an eye out for snakes.

Keep Fido Contained: Your pooch should always be on a leash. Don’t let him get ahead of you when crossing driveways, parking lot entrances or exits, or intersections.

Keep Night Walks Short And Sweet: Once the sun has gone down, stick to busy, well-lit areas. Save those explorations for later.

How Do I Keep My Dog Comfortable On Walks In Extreme Weather?

When it’s really hot out, you’ll need to take a few extra precautions. In summer, bring water with you any time you’re going to be gone for more than a few minutes. You’ll also need to be careful about the terrain. Your furry pal can burn his paws on hot asphalt or tar!

No matter what time of year it is, try to keep your pup on soft surfaces. Using paw balm or wax can keep those toe beans moist and protect them from that dry air. We’d also advise keeping toe fur trimmed. Those tufts may be cute, but they can pick up all sorts of gunk and foreign objects.

What Are The Benefits Of Walking My Dog?

Those daily strolls aren’t just good for Fido. They’re also good for you! People with dogs tend to be slimmer than those who don’t have pups. The cumulative effects of even short walks definitely add up.

Here are some of the other benefits:

  • Better Physical Fitness
  • Better Sleep
  • Improved Mental Health
  • Reduced Stress
  • Lower Risk Of Heart Disease

How Can I Make The Best Of Walking My Dog?

Regular walks give you a chance to hang out with your dog. Fido will also benefit from the mental stimulation he gets from sniffing all of the things. Dogs get a lot of information about our world from their noses, so smelling that tree down the road can be quite informative for your pup.

Bring treats along, and use the time to work on or reinforce your pet’s training.

What Should I Bring With Me When Walking My Dog?

Even if you’re just taking a stroll around the block, it’s best to bring a few things along. Some of the things you may want to pack include:

  • Spare Keys
  • Water
  • Waste Baggies
  • A phone
  • A phone charger
  • A Flashlight
  • Personal Protection
  • Gloves

You may want to designate a jacket or fanny pack for walking your pet. Keep everything you need in your pockets. You’ll only have to grab one thing on your way out the door!

Please contact us with questions about your dog’s health or care. As your Metairie, LA animal clinic, we are here to help!