Walking your dog in the city can be a ton of fun! There are plenty of things to do and see in the city, and many cities are becoming increasingly more dog friendly. Evidence of this can be seen in the many dog parks, and dog friendly restaurants and businesses you can probably find in your local metropolitan area.
You’ve got your cell phone, your keys and ID, wallet and doggy bags, treats, and the all important leash. However, before you go running out the door with your dog it is important to remember these simple steps:
Below you’ll find some simple explanations of what exactly these four words mean in this context, and the reasons as to why they are so important to remember.
Plan your route before leaving the house. Take note of any stops you plan to make, and be aware of their policies concerning pets. If you have to go inside a building, and you are unable to take your dog in with you, then do not take your dog. Never leave your dog tied up while you go inside. This leaves them open to potential injury or theft. If your dog slips the leash because something scared them, they could bolt into traffic and get hurt. Likewise, if your dog is left unattended anyone could walk up and steal them while you aren’t looking.
Let your dog walk slightly in front of you. Most people have their dog trained to walk to their left, which is what you’d want in any normal walking situation. Walking your dog in the city is not always a normal situation, so in this case you want to do things a little differently. Instead of walking to the left, allow your dog to pace slightly in front of you. The city sidewalk can be a dirty place with a lot of trash that your dog might like to investigate, so doing this will allow you to spot those surprises before your dog does. Be on the lookout for anything your dog might try to eat, as they can get sick if they ingest something toxic to their body.
Teach basic verbal commands to your dog. The ASPCA recommends training your dog to respond to a minimum of four basic verbal commands. You want your dog to know the meaning of “Sit-Stay,” “Heel,” “Come,” and “Leave it.” The “Leave it” command will come in handy should your dog happen upon any of the aforementioned morsels of trash, or if they are exhibiting aggressive behavior toward other animals or humans. Your dog knowing “sit” will come in handy at crosswalks, busy intersections, or if you should happen to stop on the street to talk to someone.
Always keep your dog on the leash. In the city is it especially important to always keep your dog on the leash when out in public. Many cities even have leash laws where the dog’s owner would be subject to a fine, or a citation if seen in public with their dog off leash. This may seem harsh to some, but it is as much for the dog’s protection as it is any humans who may encounter your dog without a leash. The city is a busy, hectic place and your dog could easily become overstimulated and get spooked or lash out at a passerby. Keeping your dog on the leash at all times prevents this opportunity from occurring, and allows you to ultimately be in control of your dog’s movements.
Make sure you have a reliable leash. Retractable leashes mainly exist for training purposes, and are not intended to be used for normal dog walking. This is because a retractable leash gives your dog too much of a lead, and a dog that has gotten too far ahead of its owner can be much harder to control. You want to be able to pull your dog back should a situation arise where the animal could get hurt. A good alternative to a retractable leash is a leash that stretches. The Urban Walkr stretch leash from the makers at Wacky Walkr is an excellent example of this sort of product. The lightweight leash features a reinforcing cable that won’t snap when your dog pulls. This product actually reduces the power your dog has for pulling by 50%, and it also helps to gently correct your dog’s walking behavioral problems.It features a second handle designed to enable you to quickly pull your dog back from traffic, which could really come in handy in the city!
Curb your dog. Undoubtedly, your dog will be unable to resist the opportunity to relieve itself while you are out and about. This is okay, and you should let nature take its course. However, be mindful of where you and your dog happen to be when the urge to go strikes. Don’t let your dog go in someone’s carefully maintained flower bed, or on the city street. Simply pull your dog over to the curb, or the gutter and let them do their business there. If your dog leaves solid waste behind, it is important to pick up after them and then to dispose of it in a proper receptacle. For this reason, it is important to be prepared with doggy bags. We like Dogline’s Beta Treat Pouch because it not only allows us to carry bags easily, but also keep track of things like IDs, wallets and keys. There is even room for some dog treats, which you should always have on hand when walking your dog in the city.
Curbing your dog isn’t so much an issue of health or safety pertaining to your dog, but it is just good etiquette and common courtesy to do so, and it helps give city dogs a better reputation when their owner is responsible and disposes of their waste properly.
Aside from all of these tips, just pay attention and stay connected with your dog while walking in the city. If you take your dog on daily jaunts around town, the temptation may arise to listen to a podcast or music, or talk on the phone while taking your dog for their walk. It will be hard to pay attention to your surroundings if you have headphones in, and you always want to know what is going on around you in the city. Besides that, walking through the city with your dog is your daily opportunity to bond with, and reconnect to your dog. Drop the distractions and enjoy spending time with your dog in the moment!