Jan 29, 2022 4:09:47 AM
The many benefits of dog walking are well documented and regular walks form part of our daily routine. But it is really easy to get into an unthinking pattern of where and how we walk our dogs. There are lots of adventures to be had out there with our canine companions so why not try something new?
On the doorstep
In your neighbourhood you’ll most probably know of the main dog walking routes. However it’s always interesting to ask others to share their experiences. Ask around or pose the question on your local Facebook page – it could throw up several possibilities that you didn’t know about.
Some areas also have walking groups where dogs are welcome. Again, social media or a local noticeboard should have the details you need for these.
Following signposted public footpaths can lead you to wonderful new places to explore. We have a great network of public footpaths in this country that are protected and intended for us to use.
Be mindful of your surroundings though and always keep your dog on a lead unless you are absolutely sure it is OK to let them off. Public footpaths often go through farming land and it’s vital that your dog is on a lead so that crops and livestock aren’t affected.
Also keep an eye out for horses, especially if you are on a bridle path - many horses can be skittish and could be upset by your dog.
Some public footpaths aren’t always accessible for dogs as they might include a stile or other obstacle – consider this before going too far out of your way to get to one.
Enclosed exercise areas
These are becoming increasingly popular and provide a secure area for your pets to exercise off lead and in a contained space. These spaces vary in their size, layout and facilities but the better ones will have a few really useful things included – like waste bags and a bin, hand sanitiser, tennis balls, agility equipment and more.
Some also offer socialisation sessions so if your dog is not great around others, these are a gentle way to help overcome this.
You can expect to pay around £10 per hour, although some charge per dog per hour. There are several directories and online listings – we’ve included a few below. Most include a secure car park area and high fences.
Colour code your dog
It’s really useful to understand the different colours of dog leads, collars or bandanas that represent various temperaments. Red indicates caution and the need for space. Orange shows that the dog likes people but not other dogs. Green is all systems go – these dogs are friendly and happy to meet all people and dogs. White represents a blind or deaf animal and light yellow is communicating that the dog is nervous and needs a little space.
This is a universal system but one that needs much more awareness to be fully useful. Petsplusus.com has full details on its site – link below.
Off the beaten track
If you find some land that looks perfect for a dog walk, do your research first. Find out if it’s public land and that you’re allowed to be there. This applies to beaches, woodland, lakes and open fields. There are certain times of year to be extra vigilant such as lambing and calving season and nesting season (some birds nest on the ground). Never use land where there are newborn animals as the mothers will be highly (and rightly) protective.
The PDSA has a useful section on this on its website – including what to do if you’re being chased by farm animals! See the link below.
We have covered this in a previous article. Walking your dog on the beach is a wonderful experience but to enjoy it properly, it’s good to know where and when you can do this. See our article on dog friendly UK holidays for more information.
Parks and public areas
If you plan on visiting your local park (or any other park for that matter), be mindful of who else is using the space. Keep your dog on a lead if there are small children or elderly people about, they might not appreciate the attention! However, if the park allows it, use the open area to enjoy ball games and exercise your dog.
It’s important that his recall is good in this kind of environment as you may need to get him on the lead quickly as different people and dogs come and go.
Brush up on your basic training
If you do encounter other animals on your walks it’s ideal if you have some tasty treats to distract your dog with. Also, having a good recall and the ability to make him stay or sit is invaluable.
A useful checklist
Don’t forget that to be out in public with your dog, wherever you decide to walk, your dog must be microchipped and wearing an identity collar – that’s the law. We hope you find some inspiration to try new places to enjoy with your dogs – there’s a lot to choose from!
January is typically when we look ahead and decide what we can do better. We might think of home improvements, sleeping habits, our weight, the level of exercise we need and how we eat. But why not reassess your pet’s needs and do a 5-point check to see how you can make life as good as possible for them too?
It’s not just us humans who look to the new year to begin a healthier regime! Sadly many of our dogs are not in perfect condition either and a new year presents the perfect time to assess the situation and do something about it.
As we head into 2022 there is still some uncertainty surrounding the viability of public events in light of the ongoing Covid-19 situation so we’re setting this diary of events out with one eye on the news! For now, we’re going to outline the various dog focused events that we’ve come across for the new year ahead with optimism and our fingers crossed.
Whilst it’s true that the Christmas period might mean your dog has more attention than usual, it can also be a bewildering time for him with several important factors to consider before you even think about pulling the first cracker!