Dog walking is a great way to get some exercise and spend time outdoors. If you’re planning on taking your dog for a much-needed walk in Brampton or anywhere else in the GTA, then there are a few things you should know first. Here are some useful dog walking tips that can make the experience more enjoyable for you and the pups in your care.
Use the Right Dog Collar or Harness for Each Dog
When it comes to dog walking in Toronto, training collars, leashes, and harnesses are an absolute must. Training a dog during a walk takes a lot of work and patience. But having the right tools in your arsenal also helps. Some dogs, especially young puppies, get easily excited and stimulated during walks and reeling them back can be difficult. The harder you pull them back, the more they resist and push forward. Front-clip harnesses are a godsend in this case because they allows you to retain control of the dog and doesn’t present any resistance.
Go Slow when Walking Puppies
Puppies haven’t fully developed bone structure or joints, so long walks can exhaust them pretty quickly. Start off with shorter walks and allow the dog time to rest afterward. As they get older, you can gradually start to increase the length of the walks and take them to new neighbourhoods. The maximum amount of time you should be walking puppies is about 15 to 20 minutes until they get used to it. From there, you can gauge whether longer walks are manageable.
Keep a Consistent Daily Walking Routine
Dogs thrive when they have a daily routine and walking is no exception. Going for a walk every day around the same time (sometimes, multiple times a day) and to the same places will help your dog get acclimated with your routine. Familiarity is important to helping a new pup or older rescue dog get used to their surroundings.
Knowing exactly where they’re going and when will help your dog understand what type of behaviour that is expected of them at all times. It also helps them get used to all of the external stimuli they might encounter on a walk in your neighbourhood. Once the dog has established trust with you and their surroundings, you can start taking them on longer walks in different areas and maybe even introduce them to other dogs in public spaces.
Carry Treats for Positive Reinforcement
Giving your dog a treat lets them know when they’re doing something right. Positive reinforcement is an effective training method that ensures the dog will learn the proper behaviours and know exactly what to do in certain situations. Don’t just give a dog a treat to calm them down, though. This can be confusing and will eventually start reinforcing negative behaviour like begging for treats and misbehaving on purpose to get a treat.
Allow Mental Stimulation Through Smell
Dog walking in Toronto neighbourhoods elicits a lot of stimuli for your dog, which can be a little overwhelming to their senses. It’s important to let the dog familiarize themselves with new surroundings through the act of sniffing. Smelling objects in their path gives them the information they need to understand that they’re in a safe place. It gives them a sense of much-needed security.
You can also control what the dog smells and how much smelling they do by teaching them certain verbal cues. For instance, if you want them to keep off of someone’s property, you can say things like, “No Sparky, not there,” or “Let’s walk” and give the leash a light tug to let them know it’s time to leave. Use a commanding and firm voice so they know you mean business.
Conversely, you can allow the dog to stop and smell the roses by saying, “Go smell, Sparky”. Spend some time training the dog and use positive reinforcement so they know when they’re doing something right.
Carry Poop Bags, Toys, and a Bottle of Water
Aside from being a good form of exercise and getting fresh air, dog walking in Toronto also happens to be the perfect opportunity for dogs to relieve themselves. Dog walkers should always be prepared with extra poop bags. Picking up dog poop isn’t just common courtesy to your neighbours; it’s also the law and you could get fined for failing to do so.
You should also bring two bottles of water—one for you and one for the dog. Regardless of how hot or cold it is outside, dogs and humans can easily get dehydrated while walking. If you’re going to a nearby doggy park and it’s nice outside, be sure to bring a little squeeze toy or ball to play fetch and allow the dog to run around a little.
Check the Weather
Look at weather reports before going for a dog walk. Sometimes, the sun can be deceiving during the winter in Ontario and it could be a lot colder outside than it looks. Extreme cold and heat can have varying effects on different dog breeds. Some breeds have thicker or thinner fur than others and this can cause their body temperatures to fluctuate in certain conditions.
During the winter, bring a jacket or blanket for your dog to wear and keep the walking time to a minimum on colder days. The sun can heat up the pavement on particularly hot summer days, so be sure to protect the dog’s paws with disposable dog booties.
Wear Reflective Gear in the Evenings
Wearing reflective clothing like an orange or yellow-striped vest and pants when dog walking early in the morning or in the evening after sunset ensures that fellow pedestrians and drivers can see you. For additional safety and peace of mind, you should also strap a reflective leash on the dog along with a light-up collar.
Hire Dog Walking Services from HireHandies
If you’re a dog owner looking for “dog walking services near me”, then HireHandies is here to help. Our online platform gives you access to a wide range of local dog walkers in Brampton, Toronto, and throughout the GTA. Simply create a job posting detailing your exact specifications and we’ll automatically match you with a list of reliable dog walkers in your area. Visit our website for more information.