If there is one thing that many dogs look forward to each day, it is getting out of the house for a walk. Whereas this used to be plentiful, the arrival of COVID-19 and the resulting Government measures that followed, has caused changes to the routines of both pets and owners alike.
So, to make sure you (and your pet!) can get the most out of ‘walkies’ we have put together five handy tips:
- Using the lead
With the advice being to keep your dog on the lead when out walking, this might be not what your dog is used to. They might start pulling ahead on the lead or start trying to grab the lead with their mouths. Scattering treats on the ground as you are walking or holding a treat in your hand, may mean they focus their attention on them and not the lead or giving them their favourite toy to carry in their mouths might keep the lead free. Training your dog to walk on a loose lead will make the walk more enjoyable for both of you – especially if you are out with young children too.
- Keeping the walk fun
To keep the walk interesting for your dog, you could practice training exercises using a long lead and harness and their favourite treat or toy. Getting them to come back to you when called will allow you to keep on top of social distancing, but also gives your dog an element of freedom, while still on their lead, to explore when no-one is around.
- Maximise opportunities for a walk
With the Government measures currently allowing a person to leave the house for one piece of exercise a day, this provides your dog with at least one walk daily. However, if there are more adults in the house, or others willing to help, then each of them could separately take a walk – meaning plenty of fresh air for your dog!
- Finding the best routine
It sounds a bit strange, but at a time when ours have drastically changed, routine could be exactly what your dog needs! That means sticking to a similar time each day for their walk or keeping the preparation the same. On the other hand, if your dog isn’t too fussed by routine, different sights and smells each day might make it more interesting and help you find places to walk where less people are around.
- Going off the beaten track
With popular dog walking areas locally to you making social distancing more of a challenge, the temptation to find quieter walking routes might take you in to the countryside. There is nothing wrong with this but remember to follow the designated footpaths, closing any gates behind you and not straying into fields of crops. There is also plenty of young wildlife and livestock about that can be frightened by your dog, so it is important to obey any signs you see. Be mindful that we are in tick season too, and those quieter wooded areas are the ideal habitats for ticks this time of year! Please contact us if you need to purchase the relevant treatment.
But what if you are walking a neighbour’s or relative’s dog as they can’t get out? The above tips can still apply but below are some other points to consider:
- Linked to finding the best routine, agree the best time and how long the walk will last with the owner to avoid any confusion.
- Work out how best to collect and return the dog that still allows you to obey social distancing guidelines.
- Where possible use a different lead, ensuring that it is washed with soap and water after use.
- Washing your hands before leaving home and again when returning is also best practice.
More information on the above can be found on both the RSPCA and Dogs Trust websites.