A walk in the Park
Sounds a Dream doesnt it?
Maybe you’re a new dog owner, or because of covid or any other reason, your work situation has changed and you want/need to walk your dog more yourself. More people are getting dogs these days because of different work situations. Or they’re getting a dog to help them mentally or physically.
Walking a dog can be a relaxing & fun experience. But it can also be stressful.
Dogs aren’t machines, they have their own personalities and quirks. So what can you do to make your dog walk, more of a walk in the park? Here are what I think are 10 simple and affordable essentials. First things first;
What should you consider?
You may need a good dog trainer. It could be a puppy training class, or a 1:1 trainer, or even a dog behaviourist. So…do you have a puppy? Or a rescue? Or a rescued puppy? Are there specific issues that need addressing? For example anxiety with other dogs? or humans? Do you think your dog is aggressive or dismissive? You’d be surprised how sometimes the real issue (physical or mental) is something different, that is actually causing the outward reaction. It’s not unusual for a dog in pain, to be an aggressive dog. So always get your dog checked out by your vet.
Why not just check social media?
A good specialist can offer enormous insights and advice. Whilst books, the internet, social media or tv are all great, having a human trained expert, who answers your specific questions (by listening to you and when possible watching you and your dog), can make a massive difference. I was once told puppy training isn’t just to teach the dog, its mainly to teach the human how to gain the dogs trust, respect and love. And so how to communicate – building a bond. They are 100% correct. Please don’t think that covid19 will stop you from training your dog. A lot of dog trainers now provide online training too, like http://pawsitivelydoesit.co.uk .
Two: High Value Treats
Something I learned at puppy class with Bella, is that a good quality “high value” treat is a game changer. That’s what started the ball rolling for “For Dog’s Sake Treats”. They suggested hot dogs, (I’m not a big fan, nor was Bella…not enough anyway), or liver cake. So with some research I put together my own recipe and Eureka! Bella’s recall & obedience improved overnight. So a “high value” treat is a MUST. I’ve since had countless success stories with my Livercake from customers.
Three: Plenty of poo bags
At the other end. You obviously need poo bags and PLENTY of them. You don’t want to be caught out. Nowadays they’re even available as fragranced (to hide the stink that lies within), and in different colours, patterns, sizes, with handle or not, and at different budgets. Even environmentally friendly ones like at Dog Poo HQ (coming soon. Very soon).
As a dog owner you are now an ambassador for all dog walkers. So PLEASE pick up after your dog. Pick up after other people’s dogs too. What? Pick up others? That’s disgusting! I know. But even though picking up another dogs poop makes me gag (don’t know why) – less poop littering, means less chance of someone having a dig about poo not being picked up. I try to persuade myself the owner just missed it, or ran out of poo bags.
Four: Quality collars and leads
Obviously a collar and lead, but good quality and a spare of each. If your dog gets spooked, you don’t want them slipping out of their collar, or the lead breaking. A spare is handy if one is lost, damaged or mucky. All three have happened to me and fellow dog walkers! Small Businesses like pennylou.co.uk sell a range of pretty collars, and more to suit most tastes and budgets.
A lot of people put a tag on the collar with a phone number, town and saying “I’m chipped”. Excellent idea if your dog gets lost. I’ve phoned the number myself when I’ve found a lost dog in the park. Word of advice…NEVER put your dogs name on it. If an unscrupulous person finds your dog its easier to win them over if they know the name. I have now moved onto embroidered dog collars though, as the tags always wore down and weren’t easy to see. Bella’s dog collars are red with my number embroidered on as large as possible in bright yellow.
Five: Harness (optional, but a definite for me)
Benefits of harnesses
As well as a collar, Bella now also wears a bright harness. Being a black dog I can finally see her in the bushes. But it’s also easier to grab her if needed, or pull her away (usually from a dead bird or the likes). But they’re also fantastic if you have a dog that pulls on the lead. It gives you more control, and doesn’t choke the dog.
What to consider when choosing a harness
At the moment I’m looking to get my phone number embroidered onto a couple of harnesses (watch this space). Again have a spare one – in the winter they always need washing. Plus take time to make sure you have the correct fit. An uncomfortable dog is a preoccupied dog and so less easy to control. Plus you don’t want it causing her any injury.
Hand gel and/or wipes. If your dog rolls in something, and you need to get in a car to go back home!!! Do I need to say more? A wipe just reduces the impact on your car, or anyone stroking them before you can advise against it. They will probably still need a wash when they get home though. The hand gel is for YOU. Do NOT use it on your dog as it can be toxic for them. But if your finger slips through the poo bag -believe me…(sh)it happens! Or nowadays with Covid, it’s ALWAYS handy having some on you.
You need something to entertain your dog. Some are obsessed with balls, so again have at least 2. They either lose them or another dog runs of with it. It’s a regular thing, and chances are you’ll find someone else’s lost ball (swings and roundabouts). Always watch your dog though. Some will eat rubber balls, or some prefer eating tennis balls. Both can mean a scary vet visit for an operation. If you’re rubbish at throwing like me, a ball thrower is a must. Some people use rackets (I find those bulky).
Or your dog may like a frisbee or a tug toy. Each dog has their own preference, you just need to take time to find out what it is. Small companies like EmilysCanineCrew sell a selection of machine washable enrichment toys, made with pet safe fleece.
Eight: Mobile Phone – not just for cute photo opportunities
Importance of being contactable
Your charged, switched on, and volume up, mobile phone is a MUST. This also needs to be the number on the dogs tag or collar. NOT your home number. That’s no use if you lose your dog in the park, and someone is ringing you at home is it?
Importance of being able to call out
You may need to call someone in an emergency – human emergency or dog emergency. It happens. Both have happened to me when walking Bella.
One early morning, I was walking Bella with a friend and her tall teenage son with their dog. Suddenly a large dog appeared from nowhere at full speed and sent her son flying. The young lad flew up in the air and landed very badly. Let us just say it was visibly clear the young teenager had broken his leg, and was screaming in agony. Having a charged phone to call an ambulance was an absolute godsend.
When Bella stuck her nose in a wasps nest and got stung by a swarm of them I had to carry her limp body. But I wasn’t going to be able to carry her all the way home, so I phoned my husband to collect us in the car and we were able to go straight to the vet. Or when Bella was a pup, I noticed (when we were walking in the park) that she had white powder around her mouth. When I looked around where she had been, there was an empty chewed up ibuprofen pack. So I phoned the vets immediately whilst at the park, who told me to bring her in immediately.
Water (especially but not limited to the summer). I’ve had bottles that have a tray attached – personally a bit of a balancing act for me, and Bell didn’t seem keen. I’ve used squeezy bottles that you squirt water out near the side of her mouth. Bella would drink some, but most of it went on the floor. Yet some dogs are great at drinking like this. NOW I use a portable bowl that folds flat and can be hooked – works for both of us. The small business – Thebarksideshop.com sell these in a variety of colours and sizes.
Ten: Dog Walking Bag
Got all the stuff? None of it expensive or difficult to find. But how do you carry it all? Winter is not bad, because you invariably have a coat with hopefully a lot of large, secure, waterproof, easily accessed pockets. But in the summer less likely. I tried several bags, some supposedly made for the job, but not quite ticking all the boxes. SO I bit the bullet and got a Dog Walking Bag made for myself. It is so practical and attractive that I soon started getting requests from other people. So now they are also available to buy.
Why choose one of my bags
- My Dog Walking Bag is waterproof with an adjustable strap to wear as you like.
- It has a quick release, fold over flap making it easy to access, secure, more waterproof than just a zip or button and it doesn’t snag like zips tend to.
- There is a separate zipped pocket which I keep my business phone AND personal mobile phones in to keep seperate from the dirty balls, bottle of water, or poo bags (that’s how poo bags get lost).
- Plus there is a clip for me to attach my portable water bowl.
- The bag has a large Tardis space like inside, which fits a small water bottle, 2 or 3 tennis balls, poo bags, keys, treats, hand gel and wipes and much more to boot!
- But it’s NOT large on the outside (hence Tardis like on the inside).
- My Dog Walking Bags are robust but NOT heavy (I’ve been using mine every day in all weather for over two years and it’s still going strong).
- These bags are washable for convenience and hygiene.
- They can also be personalised, with your dogs name embroidered on it. People who saw it in the park, saw how practical and convenient it was, and asked for a personalised one for themselves (I hadn’t thought of that when I made mine).
- Now it comes in a variety of colours.
- It is unisex -both men and women have bought them.
My Dog Walking Bag TICKS ALL THE BOXES FOR ME. But don’t just take my word for it:
These are just the basics. As well as getting waterproof coats or fleeces for some dogs, you need to make sure you’re appropriately dressed. With British weather being so changeable, we need to be prepared for all sorts of weather (sometimes in the one day). If you got even one piece of useful information from this, you may want to read some of the other blogs I’m doing like “Poo Dos and Don’ts” or “Kitted Out” or “Bella’s Directory”.
Now go out and enjoy your walk in the park with your dog! Be prepared for funny moments, embarrassing moments and frustrating moments (all the time learning from them and sharing what you learn with fellow dog owners).
15th January 2021