As a dog owner living in New York City you might be asking yourself: is dog walking dangerous? Is it safer to walk with a dog? Should I purchase any dog attack protection devices? How do you navigate dog walking in the city? Is hiring a dog walker safe? We are here to answer those questions! Here are 10 dog walking safety tips to help you walk your dog in the big city!
PHYSICAL WELLBEING OF YOUR DOG
The number one priority for dog owners is the wellbeing of your beloved pup. To keep your dog safe at all times, you need to take the dog health and dogs body into consideration when planning your outings. For example, overweight dogs, senior dogs, those with medical conditions like a heart defect or breeds with issues breathing might not do well walking outside for extended periods of time. The weather conditions could also be a factor. Consult with your vet about these concerns so you can be aware of warning signs that your dog is unwell and under what conditions you should be extra cautious.
Working with a licensed and experienced dog trainer can help you and Fido get started on the right foot. It is beneficial for eveyone if you taught your dog to walk on a leash and how to engage in social interactions with people and other dogs while out on walks. Working with a trainer can also educate the pet owner on dog behavior, increase the understanding of your dog’s body language and offer safety tips for walking dog in city.
Check the local forecast for the weather conditions before heading out to walk your dog. In the case of hot weather, you should plan to stick to the shade and keep a slower pace. If it is dangerously hot outside you should plan to shorten walks and spend extra time playing inside where it is cooler. Be very careful on black pavement as the ground can get so hot it can burn the paws of the dogs. Bring water and a water bowl to keep both yourself and your furry friend hydrated. When it starts to get colder and you are planning on walking your dog in the winter, make sure your dog is properly bundled in a coat or sweater if needed. Dogs with thick fur might be OK without a coat in cold weather and can actually overheat in a heavy coat. Watch out for salt on sidewalks and roads as walking on it can be very painful for your dog. Do not let your dog lick their paws and make sure to also wash their paws after walks as the salt can make dogs sick. Check the AQI as certain dogs with medical conditions may not be able to stay outside for very long if the levels are too high. If there is a thunderstorm in the forecast and your dog is afraid of thunder then plan your walks around the storm. Many dogs panic and get lost in these situations and it can be a very traumatizing experience in general to be outside when the boomers strike.
Be aware of your surroundings at all times and think about the area you are exploring with your pooch. If you are in a wooded area or a park with tall, unmowed grass then you might need to check your dog for fleas and ticks. Be respectful of the local wildlife and do not let your dog off leash around wild animals.
NAVIGATING NEW PLACES
If you and your pet travel to a new place it is best to do some research ahead of time. Getting lost in a new place can be scary! Make sure to research ahead of time where you are going to walk your dog and look at maps of the area. Bring a paper map if you can, in case your phone loses service or battery, but having navigation tools on your phone are helpful as well. Look for signs in the area alerting people to potential dangers, like signs for rat poison or areas that were recenlty sprayed with pesticides. Trespassing is never a good idea so stick to the roads designated for pedestrians and make sure you are walking in a dog friendly area.
EQUIPMENT AND SUPPLIES
It is important to choose the right equipment, and that also includes having an understanding of basic dog commands as well. Never leave your home without a dog collar with name tags and a phone number. A dog harness that is sized properly and fits your dog’s body type is a good idea as well to keep your dog secure. Every dog is built differently so choose a harness that suits their specific needs. Make sure to always follow your local leash laws. When choosing your dogs leash, make sure it is made of a sturdy material like thick nylon and that it is appropriate length. A leash that is too long means your dog can get too far away from you to properly handle. Too short and your dog can become anxious since they can’t sniff and explore. We do not recommend using retractable leashes as it can be harder to control your dog if a situation arises, like a chicken bone on the street or a not so friendly dog. Some dogs eat some pretty gross stuff, like dead animals or feces. If your pup is prone to scavenging and searching for their next tasty snack, think about investing in a special muzzle designed to make sure they don’t eat anything they aren’t supposed to. You don’t want to take your dog to the ER or have a case of diarrhea on the new rug.
Dog walking in the city comes with some unique challenges, specifically with relation to traffic. Paying attention to the roads, traffic signs and vehicles is important especially when crossing the street. Always cross at designated crosswalks and wait until it is safe to cross. Always look both ways and be VERY careful of any vehicles turning as they might not see you in the crosswalk. Be mindful of the bike lanes and watch out for scooters and bikes. Wearing reflective gear, like a safety vest or blinking lights, at night can help to make you more visible to people on the road. Carrying a flashlight is a good idea as well.
Be mindful of the other dog walkers in the area, whether they be a fellow neighbor or a professional. You should avoid other dogs if they seem unfriendly, unwell or if they are busy eliminating or learning some training with their person. An Important thing to keep in mind when it comes to dog walking etiquette is understanding how to socialize your dog responsibly and to ask permission before interacting with other dogs. During the meet and greets between your pup and another, watch body language for any signs of aggression and make sure to intervene and before anything escalates. A good way to reinforce dog training while walking is to carry treats to reinforce positive behavior.
WALKING MULTIPLE DOGS
One of the risks of dog walking business and persons who own more than one pup is navigating how to walk multiple dogs safely. As a professional dog walker, one has to consider pairing up dogs who are compatible and not just be geography. Age, personality, health and temperament are all factors to consider. Other considerations when walking multiple dogs is making sure you have a proper hold on each pooch so you can keep stop your dogs from any potential hazardous situations. Both hands should be used to walk the dogs, with one in each hand for two dogs and possibly two in one and one in another for three. A shorter leash is important, so keep the dogs no more than 3 feet away from you at all times. Be careful with dog interactions as the pack mentality can sometimes kick in. If a passing dog is barking, be prepared to have your whole pack barking too.
Few things are scarier than an injured pet. If there is an incident and your dog is injured, call your vet immediately. In some cases time is of the essence and your dog will need to see a doctor ASAP so check for a local emergency vet nearby. If you have a phone with browsing capabilities check for emergency vets, otherwise try to ask another person in the neighborhood with a dog who might be familiar with the area. Taking some emergency aid classes can also help to save your dog’s life by teaching such skills as CPR and how to dress a wound.