Safe walkies: Keeping adventurous dogs safe when out on walks

jack russel with a leash
Chris Stoddard
Chris Stoddard

Every single dog is an individual, with their own unique traits and care requirements. The differences between dogs of different breeds and types is often most acute when it comes to providing their exercise, in terms of the amount of exercise each dog needs each day, and what they do when out on walks.

Some quieter and more sedentary breeds like the English bulldog will often be happy with just a half-hour walk or gentle run each day - but for really active, lively breeds like the Springer spaniel, Border collie and Siberian husky, exercising your dog is likely to take up a large portion of your day! Dogs like these tend to be very lively, excitable and adventurous, and they will often be so keen to play, explore and have fun that they might not always “look before they leap,” or pay much mind to keeping themselves from harm. If this sounds like your dog, this article will share some tips and advice on keeping adventurous dogs safe when out on walks. Read on to learn more. Training and recall First of all, being able to follow basic commands and vitally, having good recall skills is essential for any dog, but particularly those that are inquisitive and adventurous. If your dog can’t follow basic commands like “leave it” and “come back,” they are apt to get themselves into hot water when out walking off the lead. Recall can be a hard command to teach and achieve reliable compliance with, and it will often take a lot of work to ensure that an adventurous dog will come back to you when called in a high-stakes situation. You might have to spend weeks or even months deliberately working to improve your dog’s recall skills in a range of different situations, but until your dog will come back when called even when a lot is going on around them, they won’t be safe off the lead outside of enclosed spaces. Identification If your dog runs off, wanders off or finds something exciting to do that involves getting away from you when out on walks, your best chance of getting them back quickly safe and sound is ensuring that they can be identified with ease. If someone else finds your dog, they should be able to contact you quickly using the phone number displayed on the dog’s collar - and they must also be microchipped in accordance with the law. Microchipping your dog is essential - as is keeping your details up to date - but a person who finds your dog will have to contact a vet, dog warden or other professional who holds a scanner and access to the database in order to find out how to get them home. Make sure your dog’s collar holds an up-to-date tag to avoid this, and to make it easier to get your dog home. Knowing where you walk It is important to get the lie of the land before you walk your dog off the lead somewhere new, to identify potential hazards, check fencing, and allow you to manage your dog appropriately. If you’re taking your dog somewhere new, keep them on a lead until you have a good grounding in the boundaries, risks, and limitations around you and know that it is safe to let your dog off the lead. Keeping your dog in sight and earshot You should always keep your dog in sight when they’re off the lead, and ensure that they are in earshot of you - factoring in things such as how external noise and the wind can affect the distance over which your dog will hear you. Consider training your dog to respond to a dog whistle as well as to verbal commands, as this sound will carry further. Knowing when to put your dog on the lead You should always have a lead at the ready, even when walking your dog somewhere that you know well. Get your dog used to coming back to you and being put on the lead for a few minutes at a time and then letting them off again, so that they will come when called when it counts and not avoid you because it means the end of their play. Water sources and potential threats Take care when walking alongside of lakes, rivers, canals or the sea, and train your dog not to go into the water until you give them the go-ahead. Outdoor water sources can be risky for dogs that like to swim for many reasons - the water might be too cold (even on a hot day), your dog might not be able to get out, there might be currents or obstructions, and at certain times of the year, blue-green algae blooms in natural water can make your dog quite ill. Livestock and pets You must keep your dog on a lead near livestock, and particularly if using public footpaths through farmer’s fields. If your dog is loose in a field with livestock and/or if they worry them or attack them, a farmer can and may legally shoot your dog, or report them to the police or dog warden which may result in them being put to sleep. If your dog attacks or chases someone’s cat or another animal, they may again be reported to the dog warden (as well as potentially killing or injuring the other pet) which might result in criminal prosecution and again, the destruction of your dog. Keep your dog on a lead when around other animals, or if you don’t know whether or not other animals might be around. Also, muzzle them if necessary for the protection of wildlife and other people’s pets. Scavenging behaviour If your dog is apt to eat anything they find when out on walks, this can be risky too - teach your dog not to eat things they haven’t been given permission to, and ensure that they will comply with the “leave it” command. You might also want to consider muzzling your dog to prevent scavenging behaviour when your dog is too far away to follow a direct command. (Article source: Pets 4 Homes)

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