So are you a new dog parent, do you have a cute puppy who won’t stop pulling, do you want some new tricks to keep your dog under control? Or maybe you are already an expert but want to make your dog walks more fun for both you and your dog. If you follow our dog walking tips and your doggy will be enjoying walking, getting some great exercise, and spending time out and about with your beloved dog!
Selecting the Best Lead
What is the best leash for walking a dog? It’s a very simple answer, use whatever you feel most comfortable with. Every dog and owner is different so there’s no one best lead or collar, but we do have some suggestions on what may be best for you.
- Retractable extension-leads (the ones that automatically extend and retract from the handle) are best reserved for dog walks in a park, beach, or other large safe area, when it’s safe for your dog to roam a bit further away from you. They aren’t such a good idea if you’re walking somewhere with lots of people or other dogs that aren’t on a leash, as the long line will probably get tangled around your dog, someone’s leg or another dog. There’s nothing worse than trying to untangle your dog while they are in the middle of a sniff/bark/growl session with another dog.
- Some people think chain leads look nice, but they are quite a lot heavier than nylon or leather, and they can be very hard on your hands. They can be useful for dogs who like to tug or bite the leash as dogs really aren’t that keen on biting metal. They also don’t offer any stretch or give, so if your dog suddenly rushed off or lunges it can give you quite a nasty jolt.
- Leather leashes are a good option because they are easiest on the hands, but many nylon leads come with leather hand loops to offer a good combination.
- Nylon leashes have been known to cut people’s hands or give a nasty “leash burn” if a dog pulls a lot or unexpectedly lunges forward. Their advantage is that they come in a wide range of colours and designs, and they hold up well after repeated exposure to weather and New Zealand’s harsh sun.
Dogs that Pull, Yank, and Strain on the Leash
Constant pulling on the lead can take all the fun out of a dog walk and creates stress for both you and your dog. For lots of great tips on how to stop your dog pulling have a look at our Lead Etiquette advice, here’s a few simple tips to start with:
If your dog darts after birds, cats, or other wildlife, it may help to walk your dog when these distractions are less likely to be out and about, so avoid dog walks at sunrise and sunset.
If the problem is simply pulling on leash due to natural dog excitement about all the interesting signs and sounds you find on walks, try using a head halter (such as the Gentle Leader) to walk your dog.
Watch out for Pesky Plants and Risky Rivers
Many dogs are allergic to common plants such as Wandering Willie, which is found throughout much of Wellington, and many New Zealand beaches dunes are covered in spear-grass. Both of these can cause problems for your dog. Spear-grass is particularly dangerous for long haired dogs as the seeds from the grass can get caught in the fur and they penetrate the skin and at worst have been known to enter blood vessels which can be fatal if not detected soon. So keep an eye out for these and consult your local vet for advice on specific things to watch out for in your region.
Many New Zealand rivers get high levels of toxic algae during summer, this is potentially lethal for dogs so be on the lookout for it. It looks like a brown slime on the bottom and sides of the river, and is most common in warm weather and slower moving parts of the river. Local councils often provide warnings for dog owners about the status of local rivers. It’s worth checking before you take your dog for a swim.
Manners, Manners, Manners
It’s great that your friendly dog loves meeting people during walks, but not so great that he jumps up on them, especially if they are walking to or from work in their best suit. The best solution is to teach your dog to sit on cue and then keep them sitting before they greet new people. No sitting, no greeting. You dog will soon work out that the reward for sitting is that they get to enjoy greeting their friends. Sometimes it’s even a good idea to reward your dog with a treat or ask the person they’ve just greeted to give them a treat (one that you’ve subtly handed them).
If you’re going for a long walk, make sure you bring some water for your dog, especially if it’s warm outside. Overheating is very dangerous for dogs, and drinking lots of water helps to keep your dog cool. Thirsty dogs will drink any water they can find, which isn’t always such a good thing if the water is a bit questionable, so you are best to bring some for them.
Don’t forget the treats! Walks are a great training opportunity. Bring your dog’s favourite treat, and use them to help teach and practice tricks and obedience while you’re on the walk. Not that they need to be convinced, but giving treats for good behaviour during a walk will help convince your dog that going on walks is fun.
Is it a three bag day? Don’t get caught without enough poo bags, particularly if you’re going on a long walk. Pet Angels provides all of our Angels with an abundant supply of our branded biodegradable poo bags, but you can use any old plastic bag, it’s a great way to recycle plastic shopping bags.
Baby I was Born to Run
Dogs love to run, some more than others, but regardless of size or breed they all enjoy the chance to stretch their legs and go for a good run. So contact your local council and find out where the off-leash dog exercise areas are. Wellington City Council calls these Woof Woof Ruffs, and there are lots of them around the city.
When you take your dog to an off-lead dog exercise park or other fenced-in area that’s safe for dogs to run freely make sure your dog is prepared for off-leash play. Your dog must know how to come when it is called, so the most important thing to teach a dog is to come reliably when called.
Keeping it Interesting
Walking the same route or path everyday isn’t too much of an issue for your dog, they don’t get board of it and it gives them a sense of security about their “patch”. But it can get a bit dull for you, so here are some suggestions for keeping dog walks fun for both you and your dog:
- Go exploring. Each week try to find a new place to walk your dog. On a busy day you can use your good old route that you know so well, but try to find somewhere new to explore each week. Your dog will love experiencing the new sights, smells and sounds at a new location, and it helps you experience more of the place you live in.
- They say it’s all about the journey not the destination, but sometimes it helps to choose a great destination. If possible, walk to fun places, like a friend’s house, a local café, or even the pub (our local even lets the dogs inside on cold days).
- Walk with your mates, both yours and your dog’s. If your dog likes other dogs, consider group walks. You could borrow a friend’s dog to walk with you, invite some family or friends who have dogs to meet you somewhere, or meet up at the local dog park with a group.
Sand-flies and Mozzies
New Zealand doesn’t have any really nasty bugs but we do have lots of sand-flies, so spray yourself, but not your dog! Even though it might sound like a good idea to share your insect repellent with your dog, don’t do it. Insect repellent should never be applied to dogs, they can suffer neurological problems from the toxic ingredient, DEET. Instead, ask your vet for a suitable, pet-specific alternative.
More Information - Useful Sites
More information on Dog Walking in New Zealand can be found at these sites: