The right collar, leash, clean up and cool down supplies optimize the dog walking experience. Less hassle means more quality dog-owner bonding!
Choose the Right Collar or Harness for Walking Your Dog
A dog that is well trained for walking so it never pulls or gets overly distracted by the sights and smells along your walk is a worthy goal, but not every person who wants to take his dog for a walk has achieved this level of control. If your dog tends to pull, consider using a no-pull harness which has a front-clip leash attachment point at the center chest. These allow you much better control than harnesses with back attachments for leashes which actually encourage dogs to pull into the harness.
If you prefer to use a collar, make sure any buckle collar is not so loose that it can slide over your dog's head if it should back up. You could not only lose control of your dog, but the dog has lost its most easily accessed form of identification, its collar tags. Martingale style collars which expand to go over the head and which tighten but only to a limited degree are an excellent choice for walking dogs with only mild tendency to pull. Choke collars should only be used on dogs that do not pull or who are responsive to mild corrections; they pose a definite choking hazard for dogs that have a strong tendency to pull.
Fixed Length Leashes are Best for Walking Your Dog
If you are walking your dog in a neighborhood, whether you have sidewalks or not, use a leash no more than 6 feet in length. This is long enough to give your dog some freedom, yet short enough to roll up in your hand if the dog prefers to walk close to you or if you need to restrain the dog. Leather is the most hand-friendly material you can use; nylon comes in more colors but can be rough on your hands if your dog tends to pull. Avoid chain leashes, they are extremely hard on your hands and can hurt or frighten your dog if the leash should swing and hit the dog. Retractable leashes can be convenient when exercising a dog in an open area, but pose many dangers, especially when used in areas where vehicles and other people are present. If left unlocked, they allow dogs to take off suddenly, with the risk of bolting into traffic or unexpectedly accosting other people or dogs. There are hazards to the person walking the dog as well, with rope burns being most common, but there have been cases of fingers being severed when caught in fast-moving retractable leash lines.
Be Prepared to Clean Up and Cool Down on Dog Walks
On every dog walk, you should be prepared and carry poop bags, even if you don’t think you’ll need them. A number of conveniently designed holders for rolls of bags designed especially for the purpose are available, or you can simply stuff an appropriately sized plastic bag in your pocket. If you don’t need the bag the hassle to take it is minimal, if you do need one, you’ll be glad you brought it along.
If your walk takes you away from home in warm weather, consider bringing some water for your dog. There are several types of portable water bottles with attached drinking cups available for your dog; some designs have a drinking straw that allows a person to drink from the same bottle without mingling your slobber. Even large dogs can learn to drink from portable bottle cups, helping them stay hydrated and cool.