15 Must-Know Dog Walking Tips [Complete Guide]

A dog parent using dog walking tips while walking their pup

At some point or another, pet parents may ask themselves, “Why is it important to walk your dog?Dog walking is highly beneficial as a physical activity — as well as a source of mental stimulation for pups. In addition, dog walking is also a bonding experience that enhances the well-being of your pup.

Whether you're a first-time dog owner or a seasoned pro, these dog walking tips cover tips for getting started, prioritizing safety, and having even more fun during dog walks.

What’s in This Guide?

Getting Started With Dog Walking

This section covers basic dog walking tips for beginners. Scroll further down for more safety and fun tips for dogs that have already mastered leash training.

1. Start Dog Walking Gradually & Ensure Proper Leash Training

When introducing your dog or puppy to walking on a leash, it's crucial to begin in a calm and familiar environment to minimize distractions and build a positive association with the leash. Choose a quiet space where your dog feels comfortable and secure.

Utilize positive reinforcement techniques, such as offering treats and lavish praise, to reward your dog for walking alongside you and exhibiting desirable behavior. This is all part of effective leash training for dogs

Start with short walks, allowing your furry companion to adjust to the sensation of the leash. As your dog becomes more at ease, gradually extend the duration and intensity of your walks, introducing new environments and challenges.

2. Invest in the Right Dog Walking Gear (Collars, Leash, Dog Booties)

Select a properly fitting harness to ensure comfort and control during walks. Opt for a 6-foot leash made of durable materials like nylon or leather, ideal for beginners and puppies. A standard flat collar often suffices for most beginners in leash training — but for leash-pulling issues, consult a professional trainer before considering any type of corrective collar. 

In addition, if your dog ventures into challenging terrain, hot surfaces, or sidewalks treated with harmful icemelt, consider using dog booties for their protection and well-being.

A dog holding a leather leash, an important tool for dog walking

3. How Often Should I Walk My Dog? (Establishing a Routine)

Regular dog walking is part of a complete dog care routine. The optimal duration for a daily dog walk varies based on factors such as the dog's breed, age, health, and energy level. 

Although individual needs differ, a general recommendation is to strive for a daily walking regimen ranging from 30 minutes to two hours. High-energy breeds and younger dogs might benefit from more vigorous or extended walks — whereas senior dogs or less active breeds may find contentment in shorter strolls. 

Prioritizing Safety for Dog Walking

When pups are brought into a public space, the safety of the pup, the owner, and the public need to be ensured. The following guidelines will help you stay safe while dog walking! 

4. Observe Canine Communication

Mastering the skill of interpreting your dog's body language is paramount, especially during dog walks. Being attuned to subtle cues helps you recognize signs of stress or aggression — which are critical emotions in our pups that may require us to respond. 

Here are a few essential dog body language cues related to stress, high alertness, or aggression that pet parents need to take note of, along with some general tips for responding to each cue:

  1. Perked ears — the dog is on high alert, something may have gotten their attention (e.g. a squirrel, a loud noise). Observe your pup and make sure they are secure.
  2. Cowering and/or having their tail between their legs — the pup is afraid or stressed and may need reassurance or removal from the threatening stimulus
  3. Raised hackles (fur along the spine), tense body posture, and/or growling — the dog is feeling aggressive and may act on it. It may be best to distract the dog and/or move the dog away to avoid escalation.  

Positive reinforcement and distractions can help pups calm down; over time, the dog may be conditioned to calm down or ignore a stressful stimulus. However, persistent or severe stress or aggression could mean it’s time to choose a dog-walking route that doesn’t have the same triggers.  

A dog owner using positive reinforcement during dog walking to help keep the dog calm  

5. Always Use a Leash When Dog Walking

For a majority of pups, the safest way to bring them outside is by using a leash. A sturdy leash will prevent your dog from running into potentially dangerous situations or terrains. Moreover, in certain regions, leash laws are in place (e.g. Denver’s leash law), making it illegal to allow a dog to roam unleashed in public areas. 

Some pet parents may wonder if achieving reliable recall takes the place of a leash entirely. The answer is no. A leash still provides an added layer of protection, even for dogs with reliable recall. As an added note, achieving reliable recall (a dog's ability to return promptly upon command, regardless of any distraction or stimuli — with 99.99% certainty) takes time and practice to develop. Some dogs may not be able to fully develop reliable recall. 

6. Choose Safe Routes to Minimize Hazards During Dog Walking

By consciously choosing safe routes for dog walking, you and your dog can relish the outdoor experience without unnecessary risks. Stick to well-lit areas, particularly during evening walks, to enhance visibility and reduce the risk of accidents.  

Opt for paths that minimize potential hazards — avoid busy roads, construction zones, or areas with aggressive wildlife (especially potentially rabies reservoirs: skunks, raccoons, etc.). 

7. Update Vaccinations and Preventives

Help minimize the risk of parasites and serious transmissible diseases by keeping your pup up-to-date on vaccines and preventives.  

A majority of dog vaccinations need to be updated every year or every three years, in order to maximize their protective benefits. Furthermore, avoid exposing unvaccinated puppies to other dogs

As for routine preventives, make sure to stay on top of your pup’s heartworm preventives, which can be administered monthly, every 6 months, or every year, depending on the type of preventives used. Heartworm is a dangerous parasite that is carried by mosquitoes, making it a threat to pets both indoors and outdoors.

Last but not least, vet-recommended flea and tick preventives will help dogs avoid these itchy skin parasites, as well as the dangerous diseases that they can potentially carry (e.g. tapeworm, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Fever, etc.)

A dog going to Sploot Veterinary Care in Denver or Chicago to get updated vaccines and routine preventives

8. Ensure Your Pup is Microchipped

Enhance your dog's safety during walks by ensuring they are microchipped. Dog microchipping provides added security in case of emergencies or accidental separation. This measure offers peace of mind for pet parents, contributing to a more enjoyable dog walking experience.

9. Weather Considerations — Temperatures & Pollen

Adjust the duration and intensity of dog walking according to prevailing weather conditions. Certain weather conditions may also require more protective gear for your pup  (i.e. dog coats for cold weather — or dog booties during winter or summer).

In seasons with high pollen levels, pay attention to pollen forecasts if your pup has seasonal allergies (e.g. spring allergies in pets, fall allergies in pets). If there is no other option than to have a walk during times of high pollen with an allergic pup, it may be helpful to give them vet-approved, dog-friendly allergy medications and/or wipe down their coat after the walk to remove stuck pollen.

10. Carry a Dog Water Bottle for Dog Walking 

Carrying a dog water bottle for dog walking is a practice that helps avoid dehydration in pups. This is especially important during long walks or hikes with dogs

Carrying a water bottle for your dog is essential during warm weather — it is equally important in winter as well because the cold, dry air can contribute to dehydration. 

Infusing Fun Into Dog Walking

Once leash etiquette and safety practices are already in place, pet parents and pups can infuse fun practices into dog walking with utmost safety. Here are a few tips to keep dog walking fun!

11. Practice Basic Training While Dog Walking:

Employing positive reinforcement techniques can be highly effective in encouraging desired good behavior — and regular practice during dog walks can help keep these behaviors intact. Practicing essential commands (e.g. sit, stay, heel, etc.) during walks also provides meaningful breaks in between walks and helps pet parents bond with their furry companion.    

12. Stop by at an Off-leash Dog Park

Stop by at a nearby off-leash dog park to give your pup a safe space to run, socialize, or play fetch. This pit stop before going home can be beneficial for all pups — and more so for high-energy pups that still have plenty of energy to burn.

Check out our articles about the amazing dog parks in Denver and Chicago: 

A dog playing fetch in a dog park, one of the fun pit stops during dog walking

13. Visit Dog-Friendly Destinations & Stores

Try paying a visit to dog-friendly destinations in your neighborhood to unwind with your pup. There may be dog-friendly restaurants, bars, and shops nearby where you and your canine companion can spend quality time together.

Being based in Denver and Chicago, Sploot’s team rounded up some amazing dog-friendly establishments in these two cities. Check out our local articles:

Denver’s Dog-Friendly Destinations

Chicago’s Dog-Friendly Destinations

14. Try Out Hiking With Your Dog

For a more vigorous version of routine dog walking, you and your pup can try hiking on dog-friendly trails. Just make sure to schedule a veterinary wellness exam before going on a hike with your pup to ensure that they are in good physical condition for hiking.   

15.  Stop By for a Treat, Dog Wash, or a Happy Visit at your Favorite Vet

Aside from dog-friendly restaurants, bars, patios, and retail stores, there are other places that you can visit with your dog. Certain pet supply stores allow dogs inside and have facilities to make your pup feel extra welcome. 

For instance, certain pet stores have self-serve dog washes inside, a good pit stop after hiking or a visit to the dog park. In Denver, Colorado, and Chicago, Illinois, we’ve rounded up amazing doggy destinations that have self-serve dog-washing facilities:

Another recommended stopover while dog walking is the local veterinarian. Here at Sploot Veterinary Care, we encourage pet parents to pay us ‘happy visits’, which help fur babies become as relaxed as possible in our serene clinic’s environment — so that they are as fear-free as possible for future visits. 

Whether a pup is stopping over for a happy visit, a wellness exam, or other veterinary care needs, our friendly staff is ready to welcome fur babies with a friendly atmosphere and free yummy treats from our treat bar!

A self-serve dog wash inside a pet supply store, a good pit stop while dog walking or after hiking with a dog 
Source: www.lilysbathsandbiscuits.com

Final Thoughts on Dog Walking Tips for Safety & Fun

By following these dog walking tips, you can create a positive and enriching experience for both you and your furry companion. If you enjoyed this article, feel free to share it with fellow dog parents!

For more paw-some pet parenting tips, subscribe to our newsletter and stay connected with us on @splootvets. We regularly post about pet health tips, seasonal reminders, treat recipes, and more!

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Dog Walking Tips

Adopting these dog walking tips allows you to create a positive outing with your furry friend while also maintaining safety for everyone in public areas. 🙌

Next-Level Veterinary Care at Sploot

Sploot Veterinary Care is here for you if you have any questions or concerns about your pup’s health. We are a primary and urgent veterinary care clinic with unparalleled availability: 365 days a year, for extended hours. We merge top-notch pet care with convenience; easily schedule an appointment online or through the Sploot Vets app. We also accept same-day appointments, as well as urgent drop-offs

Till next time, we’re with you every pounce of the way!