How to Walk Your Dog Safely
By Diane Morgan
Walking your dog is an adventure for him, exercise for both of you, and a great chance for your neighbors to meet your best pal. Studies show that dogs who get regular walks receive more exercise than those just left in a yard.
For complete safety, dogs should be leashed. A leash keeps you and your dog walking at the same pace; it also keeps him from charging at pedestrians, digging in someone’s yard, or pooping in an inconvenient place. Most importantly, it keeps him safe. Even the most obedient dog may not be able to resist the sight of a squirrel or cat across the street. In addition, most jurisdictions simply require dogs to be on a leash when in public places.
Leash length depends on the height of your dog and the environment in which you’ll be walking him. It’s best to have at least two leashes of different lengths. And always keep a spare leash in your car. You never know when it might come in handy!
The width of the leash should correspond to the size of the dog: For smaller dogs (and obedient ones) 3/8 or 1/2 inches wide is suitable. Larger, stronger dogs may require a 3/4-inch leash.
Cotton leashes are comfortable, nonslip, and inexpensive. Four Paws® Dog Training Leads
are 100 percent cotton, with a traditional swivel snap hook, and are available in many different lengths.
Consider a reflecting leash for nighttime walking. Keep in mind that if you’re walking your dog at night, you should wear reflective clothing yourself.
For those who enjoy walking their dogs without putting any pressure on the neck, a harness is a good choice. Harnesses are also beneficial for dogs with spinal problems. For inveterate pullers, use a front-loop harness, making it easy to control even the strongest dog with ease.
Even if you use a harness for walking, your dog should never be without his collar. The collar carries his rabies tags and identification, and serves as a quickie “handle” when you need to stop him. The collar should fit snugly but not tightly; you should be able to slide two fingers between the collar and your dog’s neck.
With a well-trained dog, a buckle collar, harness, or head halter will be all you’ll ever need. Never use a choke chain or a prong collar on a young dog. Choke chains are especially dangerous because they can injure the trachea and even strangle a dog. Modern training methods rely on positive reinforcement, not punishment, and make these devices unnecessary.