Walking your dog daily is important for your dog’s physical and mental wellness. Dogs are social creatures, and without the social interaction with the world, dogs can become withdrawn and fearful of people, dogs, and other elements of the everyday world. We live in not only a tourist spot but also a retirement community, so that means we have unique situations here.
Drivers not familiar with our streets tend to jump into lanes at the last minute and may be more preoccupied then drivers familiar with our streets. Most people walk or jog with their dogs on the streets—because of this, we have to be aware of not only our own safety but our dog’s safety as well. Because dogs are small, they don’t stand out as much as we humans. For this reason, we should follow certain safety rules.
1 Have a secure leash and collar or harness on your dogs. Dogs can slip out of some collars and harnesses, so before your walk, make sure everything is secure. Use a 4- to 6-ft leash instead of a retractable leash. Retractable leashes are not safe, as they allow the dog to move too far away from your side, and that puts your dog at risk from traffic, other dogs, and even coyotes. Retractable leashes give people a false sense of security. They are made of plastic, and if your dog hits the end of the leash with a lot of force, the leash could break or be ripped from your hand. Keep your dog on a short lead at your side, especially in traffic or busy public areas.
2 Always walk or run facing the traffic, and keep your dog on your left side so you’re closest to the traffic. Drivers can see you more easily than your dog.
3 Having a reflective and brightly colored vest on your dog can help your dog be seen by traffic, just like road workers. If your dog wears a harness, then get a brightly colored one and one made of reflective material. Always have your dog wear reflective ID collars at all times with contact information, even if he is chipped. Not everyone will scan your dog for a chip.
4 When you stop at a corner, ensure that both you and your dog are standing on the sidewalk and not right at the edge of the sidewalk or in the crosswalk. Motorists who are turning may not see your dog or they may be distracted and hit your dog.
5 Having your dog complete obedience training will help keep you both safe, because a well-trained dog won’t pull or lunge at the end of the leash, creating unsafe situations.
6 If you like to walk with ear buds in your ears, keep the volume low enough to hear traffic or other dangers, like loose dogs, coyotes, approaching people, and traffic noise.
7 Pay attention to the ground and watch for broken glass that can slice your dog’s pads. Be aware of the temperature of the ground, especially during the summer. But, for our snowbirds, the snow and salt put on roads can have an effect on your dog’s pads as well.
Walking is one of my favorite activities to do with my dogs, as I’m sure it is for a lot of people. But we all need to make sure we keep our dogs and ourselves safe out there—happy trails create happy tails!