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Monday, June 2, 2014

14 Tips for Dog Walking Safety

by Carrie Boyko, CEB

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Keeping An Eye Out for Traffic
Sadly, I have been inspired by today's news that Orlando is once again the most dangerous place in the U.S. to walk, I'm here to share these tips for walking your dog more safely along heavily trafficked areas. Whether or not you've considered this, your dog may be equally at risk of danger, while also adding to the potential for an altercation with traffic when you become distracted by your dog's fears or enthusiasm for something he is interested in, be it human, animal or edible.
  1. Always check the security of your dog's harness or leash for fraying, damage or improper connection of the attachments. Skip the flexi-leashes and opt for a short lead that keeps your dog at your side. Walking among traffic and other walkers is not a time for an exploring Fido. Save this for the park.
  2. Keeping your dog beside you allows for additional safety for him from vegetation and potentially dangerous discards in the area off of sidewalks and the shoulder of the road. Keep Fido focused on the walk and don't allow stops for anything except a necessary bathroom break in an acceptable location. Be prepared for this with a poop bag in your pocket. Setting an example for others to help build respect for all of us as dog owners and lovers, while assuring there is nothing left behind to step in.
  3. Back up your dog's secure leash and walking paraphernalia with a solid Come When Called command. Imagine what would happen if you lost your footing and let go of the leash. Your dog needs a drop dead response to this request in order to save his life from oncoming traffic. Practice this daily at home and in areas where there are more distractions like the dog park, pet supply store and friendly neighborhoods with safety walls. 
  4. If your dog is a jumper or displays aggression with other dogs, find other places to walk while you address this issue. Not only will he be a safety hazard for you and himself, he could harm someone else. Get help for these troubling behavior problems if you've worked on them without success.
  5. Make a habit of stopping at all intersections, requiring a Sit, and looking both ways. This will be good back up support for any time that you become distracted. Perhaps your dog will do this in habit and remind you to look. Now wouldn't that be a great story of heroic support by your Fido?!!!
  6. Socialize. In order for your dog to walk among your neighbors and fellow citizens, he should be safe to interact with them. I'm not suggesting you encourage interaction, but he needs to realize that people are cool, including children of all ages. We're not foreign beings and we don't mean him harm when we walk past him. 
  7. Consider runners as a separate entity. They may appear to be beckoning your dog to play as running is a game that most dogs enjoy. Teach him to Leave it, and give way to runners who need to pass you.
  8. As you train a puppy or new adopted dog, give him a chance to watch wheeled objects from afar, allowing him to realize these, too, can be harmless. Include in this training all bicycles, scooters, skateboards, motorbikes, cars, tractors, lawn equipment and more.
  9. Remember that uniforms and hats have been known to invoke fear in some dogs, probably due to earlier experiences that did not go well. Giving your pup a chance to meet mail carriers, law officers, athletes and anyone else that sports a hat or a uniform. This can only serve your safety well. Keep this up throughout his life.
  10. Speaking of hats, these can be a terrific aid to your own ability to see in bright sunlight, along with their tactical cousin, sunglasses.
  11. Train, train, train. Your dog should be comfortable walking alongside busy traffic, in order to assure you that he won't spook and drag you into it inadvertentlyDon't ever stop training. The next semi-trailer that passes you could be the one that blows its air horn just as it passes you and your dog. Get ready!
  12. Banish texting and cell calls until you return home by turning your phone on silent. From the results of texting research, we know that this practice causes accidents among drivers. We don't need you or your dog to be the victim of one of these mishaps as well.
  13. Expecting an important phone call that you can't miss? Set your phone on vibrate in your pocket. When the call comes in, step off the sidewalk toward a building, bench or tree and stop walking while you talk with the caller. Give him or her your full attention while maintaining a good grip on your dog's leash and ask him to Sit or Down for a rest while you chat.
  14. Finally, a good walk is only safe when you can return home to a restful place of peace. Remember to lock up and take a key, cell phone in case of emergency, ID, credit card for emergency expenses and an insurance card. Dare I shift into overdrive and suggest you include a card with an emergency contact along with your dog's veterinarian's location and contact information? What would happen to him if you were hit and unconscious? Be prepared.
What's your safety tip for walking busy city streets with your dog? Do share below and thank you for adding to this discussion.

Wishing you safe walks,

Looking for other ways to get your exercise and enjoy Fido time? Try our instructional Yoga videos that include tips for getting your dog to join you for bonding time. 

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