Dog Walking Safely: Avoiding Road Toxins and Infections

Dog walking is great exercise for both of you, and essential for your pet's good health and happiness. But dog walking can be dangerous for those who don't know what to avoid. Here's how you can walk your dog safely.

1) Teach Your Dog To Obey Commands

The most important thing you can do to protect your dog's safety is to teach him to obey your commands. Remember, your dog doesn't always know what's dangerous and what isn't. An undisciplined, uncontrollable dog is a danger to you, other pedestrians, and even drivers. Teach your dog to obey the basic commands:

  • Sit
  • Come
  • Stay

2) Always Walk Your Dog On A Leash

You should always use a collar and leash to walk your dog, even if he's well-behaved. A leash helps keep your dog safe from dangers such as traffic and other dogs; it's also required by law in many locations. For a challenging dog, or a very small breed, use a halter-harness. A retractable leash allows you to adjust its length.

3) Pick Up After Your Dog

Always pick up after your dog. Carry plastic baggies with you for this purpose; using the baggie like a glove, you can pick up your dog's droppings without touching them. Not only is this respectful of others who must use the same public space, but it also reduces the risk of spreading any canine infections your dog might be carrying.

4) Carry Your Own Water

Don't allow your dog to drink from puddles or streams. These sources of water might be contaminated with parasites or toxins, such as engine oil or fertilizer. Carry water for your dog on all walks, and stop to give him a drink wheneve he seems thirsty.

By the same token, don't allow your dog any contact with feces or dead animals you might find along the way. No doubt your dog will be very curious and want to examine them; he might even want to eat or roll in them. This is why walking your dog on a leash is important. Once he becomes very interested in something, he may cease to obey your commands, and you'll beed another way to control him.

5) Seek Parks or Other Open Ground

If possible, walk your dog in a park or in the countryside. These areas are safer than urban areas; there's less traffic, fewer pollutants and less chance that you'll run across other dogs, who might be hostrile. Also, your dog will enjoy walking in the countryside much more than he'll enjoy city streets.

If you must walk your dog in an urban area, stay on the sidewalk. If possible, supplement the walk with a bit of exercise in a small park; many city parks have areas where your dog can exercise off the leash. A game of fetch in a dog park is a good way to relieve the monotony of urban dog walking.

6) Be Careful At Night

If you're walking your dog after dark, stick to well-lighted areas. Carry a flashlight. Attach reflective patches to yourself and to your dog.