home & garden: Keep these tips in mind when walking your dog
Do you have to resort to spelling the word when your dog is around? I'm with ya. If I say it aloud, Luna starts spinning and twirling and jumping... and I have to actually take her for a ... well, you know.
If you’re lucky, you enjoy those excursions as much as your dog does. But even if you don’t, taking her for a daily stroll is important for her health and well being. A few dos and don’ts will help you both get the most out of your (can we say it now?) walk!
* Keep your dog on a leash. No matter how well trained, any dog might see a rabbit or another dog and take off, ending up in traffic, getting into a fight or possibly injuring another animal or person. Some dogs are more powerful than others, and it doesn’t always depend on size. If your dog can pull you off balance, consider a different kind of collar and/or leash. Ask your vet or trainer to recommend one that will give you more control over your dog.
* Take different routes. Dogs can get bored too! Mix it up a little and take Max around a different block for a change. Or drive to a new area for your daily promenade. Dogs live for new smells, and they love exploring new territory.
* Bring a flashlight, when walking at night, it’s as important to be seen as to see what’s around you. Wear a reflective vest so drivers and other people walking can see you. There are also reflective leashes and collars available, as well as collar lights for your companion. Keep an eye out for sharp rocks and broken glass your dog could hurt himself on.
* Never get in the middle of a dog fight. This includes trying to pick up your dog if s/he is attacked by another dog. This would make you the object of attack as well. Many vets recommend citronella spray over pepper spray for stopping dog fights without doing serious damage. Don’t run. You will never be able to outrun a dog, and it will only escalate the attack behavior. Stay calm and, if possible, wedge something between the fighting dogs, but only if you are at a safe distance. After the fight, take your dog to the vet for a full examination and any necessary first aid.
* Don't allow your dog to eat anything. Dogs don’t always know what’s best for them. Roadkill, garbage, fungus and animal droppings seem like a tasty snack to many dogs, but the chances of picking up a parasite are pretty high. This is another good reason to keep your dog on a leash. Be vigilant, and if your dog seems extra interested and won’t leave a certain spot alone, take a good look, and draw him away from anything questionable.
* Don't force your dog to keep going. Older dogs, those with arthritis or hip dysplasia, and all dogs in the hot weather, need frequent breaks. Little dogs with short legs may be taking four steps to your one, so don’t necessarily go by how tired you are. Plan your route to include one or two shady spots where you can both rest and rehydrate.
* Don't use strong insect repellent. The ingredients, especially DEET, in most insect repellent, can cause neurological damage to dogs. If insects are causing a problem for your dog, ask your vet for a healthy alternative.
So let's all say the "w" word! WALK! Dogs need the exercise, the fresh air and a chance to explore. Just be prepared and stay vigilant, keeping your pal’s safety and well being in mind.