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A Walk in the Park: Dog Walking Safety Ground Rules

Barbecues, swimming, fireworks, and long walks in the park, the Fourth of July weekend is often a time spent celebrating our nation’s independence with friends and family, and that includes our beloved pets.

This weekend is the perfect weekend to grab your dog’s leash and head outside for some exercise and fresh air.

Dog walking is a great bonding activity for dog owners and their pets, and ensuring a good time for your dog (and yourself) relies on dog walking training, safety, and etiquette.

Dog Walking Training

One of the fundamental elements to a successful afternoon out with your pooch is proper training. If your dog has never been socialized and has not learned basic commands, he will have a hard time behaving in public with all the extra stimulus.

Until you know your dog is adept at navigating call commands, walking on a leash, and being presented with other animals, plan on getting him signed up for professional classes and some short distance practice runs.

Also, being aware of your state’s leash laws are an important part of responsible dog ownership, and for good reason. Be sure your pet is properly fitted with a sturdy leash and collar to keep him safe. Leash laws are important because leashes prevent accidents, and any loving pet owner wants to provide the safest, most enjoyable outdoor experiences for their pets.

Dog Walking Safety

Speaking of leashes, it is important to keep your pup on the leash unless you are in designated off-leash areas, like off-leash dog parks. There are no exceptions, even for well-trained dogs.

To have tangible control over your dog, it is important to have a sturdy leash that is 4-6 feet long attached to a properly fitting harness or collar.

It may seem restrictive, but it is an essential for the safety of your pet and others.

Another important element of dog walking safety is making sure your pet is healthy and up to date on all vaccines and parasite preventives. This protects your pet and ensures the safety of other animals and (and their people).

Safety issues to be considered include:

  • Is your pet vaccinated?

  • Is your pet spayed/neutered?

  • Is your pet up to date on flea, tick, and heartworm preventives?

  • Is your pet showing any signs of illness?

Lastly, it’s important to carry identification for both you and your pet. Both you and your dog should be able to be identified when venturing away from your home in case you become separated. Carry your ID on you while walking your dog, and be sure to place an ID tag with your dog’s name and your phone number on the collar as well. Collar tags provide quick and easy identification, making you only a cell phone call away.

Dog Walking Etiquette

The last but certainly not the least important thing to consider when walking your pup is dog walking etiquette. Examples of dog walking etiquette include:

  • Realizing that not everyone loves pets (as hard as that is to believe!) and offering plenty of space for the general public to pass.

  • Restraining your dog from trespassing onto other people’s property. Allowing your pet to dig in garbage cans, uproot flower beds, or pee on lawn ornaments is a quick way to earn yourself and your pet a bad reputation.

  • Asking for permission before approaching another dog and asking others to do the same before interacting with your pet.

  • Discouraging your dog from chasing wildlife or other pets by maintaining control and keeping him leashed.

  • Preventing your dog from jumping up on others. If your dog is easily excitable or distracted, opt to exercise him at home and try again when he is more relaxed. Proper training is key for this type of behavior.

  • Picking up after your pet’s potty breaks (and carrying plenty of bags for pet waste.)

  • Stowing away all distractions (including your phone) so you’re better able to monitor your dog and prevent any potential issues.

Dog walking can be an especially enjoyable experience for dogs and their owners. With a little bit of training, safety awareness, and etiquette, you can keep this activity safe and worthwhile for everyone.

We know that owning a pet is a huge responsibility; not only are you in charge of their safety and well-being, but you’re responsible for the safety and well-being of those around your pet.

Your care and attention while walking your dog will pay off big time in the form of more enjoyable walks for you and your pup, and will teach your dog to have a great relationship with the world.

As you prepare to celebrate this weekend, we hope that these simple tips will help in your pet walking adventures. Happy trails.

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