Walking your dog is a great way to bond and keep them healthy, but do you take the necessary steps to ensure their safety during your walks?
As a responsible dog parent, it is essential to prioritize your dog’s safety when taking them for walks.
Do you take the necessary precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable walk for you and your dog?
As a dog mom, the safety of my dogs takes priority any time we walk out the door.
Since I became a Certified Pet First Aid, CPR, Safety, and Wellness Instructor, my training has brought awareness to many dangerous situations I was unaware of before with dogs, especially during walks.
In this blog, you will learn safety tips for walking your dog, how to avoid mistakes that can injure your dogs during walks, safety measures for dog walking, and how to practice safety for walking dogs at night.
This blog is about dog safety for walking.
Safety Tips for Walking Your Dog.
Check Your Dog Walking Gear.
Before you head out for your walk, check over any accessories you use for your dog to avoid any mishaps during your walk.
Ensure their leash is free from any rips or tears and clips used to attach the leash to your dog are in good working condition.
Leash clips should be tight enough to prohibit becoming unclipped if your dog suddenly pulls too hard.
Collars or harnesses should be well fitting to avoid your dog slipping off or out of during a walk.
Pay Attention Walking Your Dog in High-Traffic Areas.
If you live in an area with a lot of street traffic, both car and pedestrian, it’s crucial to your dog’s safety to pay attention to your surroundings when out for a walk.
Believe it or not, cars are the number one killer of dogs.
Look around for oncoming cars when walking along the road or crossing the street with your dog.
Use a strong leash, no more than 4 to 8 feet in length, to quickly pull your dog towards you to avoid being hit by a car or wandering into traffic.
When crossing the street with your dog, place your dog on the opposite side of where cars are at a stop, whether to your left or right.
This prevents your dog from coming into contact with any vehicle that suddenly moves forward or doesn’t come to a complete stop before the crosswalk.
Avoid using retractable leashes in areas with a lot of pedestrian traffic.
Retractable leashes afford your dog too much freedom, and they can easily roam too far ahead of you or stray into the street, increasing their risk of being stepped on or hit by a vehicle driving by.
The lead line of a retractable leash is also challenging to see by fellow pedestrians, which can lead to someone tripping over the cord and injuring themselves and/or your dog.
Follow Pedestrian Traffic Laws.
It’s a common traffic law in most states that “pedestrians have the right of way,” but that doesn’t mean you should disregard practicing dog safety during your walks or crossing the street.
As tempting as it is, don’t jaywalk when crossing a road or street with your dog; follow pedestrian rules and cross at clearly marked, designated crosswalks.
Even if you think you can make it across that busy street, intersection, or road before the next group of vehicles drive by, you never know how your dog may react during the rush to get across.
Remember to look both ways before crossing too.
You’d be surprised how many pedestrians forget this rule and dart into the street.
Always stay on the sidewalk when walking your dog, if possible.
Some residential areas, like here in Hawai’i, may not have sidewalks, so you must adapt and overcome to keep you and your dog safe during a walk.
In any area without a sidewalk, walk on the left side of the street or road, as close to the curb or the edge of a property, facing oncoming vehicle traffic.
Keep your dog on the inside on your left, away from cars driving by.
In high-vehicle traffic areas, whether it’s walking in a city or walking around the neighborhood, I always walk facing oncoming traffic.
This enables me to see any potential hazards from an oncoming car and affords me to take necessary action if needed.
Check on Your Dog During Your Walk.
During your walk, keep a close eye on your dog and frequently check for any signs that they may be too tired, having difficulty trying to keep up, becoming ill, or limping due to injury.
An older/senior dog, a sick dog, an overweight dog, a dog recovering from surgery, or a dog not used to walking long distances are at a higher risk of suffering from dangerous levels of exhaustion.
Hot, humid, or cold temperatures can hurt your dog’s health and well-being during a walk, and catching the warning signs of heat exhaustion, heatstroke, or hypothermia is crucial to rendering pet first aid promptly.
If your dog tires out during walks, take frequent breaks until your dog can safely proceed, even if it means stopping every 10 steps.
If your dog seems to be getting too hot, take a break in the shade if the sun is out or in a cooler temperature area during the evening, and offer some fresh cool water to drink.
Look your dog over for any signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, like excessive drooling, red-colored gums, exaggerated tongue hanging out, etc., and immediately perform any pet first aid technique to help get your dog’s body temperature back down to normal.
Terminate your walk and get your dog to the nearest emergency vet if your dog is experiencing signs of heat stroke.
Heat stroke is a SERIOUS pet medical emergency and can be fatal if you don’t take quick action to help your dog cool down.
If your dog is experiencing signs of hypothermia, remove your dog from the cold environment as quickly as possible and take action with pet first aid techniques to warm them up.
Wrap your dog in a dry towel or inside your coat (if it’s a small dog).
Hug your dog, but NEVER rub your dog when trying to warm them up.
Rubbing your dog can cause more damage to any frost-bitten areas and will cause more pain for your dog.
If your dog is limping, check their paws for any objects, like shards of glass or thorns, that they may have stepped on during their walk.
Carefully remove anything stuck on your dog’s paw, rinse with clean water, control any bleeding, and bandage your dog’s paw if necessary.
Respect and Follow Dog Leash Laws.
It’s easy to do when you’re walking your dog in an area with minimal street traffic or walking in open lots, but dog parents often need to pay more attention to the risks of not having your dog on a leash.
If your dog is off leash during a walk, they can get themselves into trouble, and often before you can quickly react.
A dog off leash can wander so far away that you won’t see the dangerous situation and take action to prevent it, like running onto private property or into a yard with a reactive dog, running upto or approaching a reactive dog, running into traffic, being attacked or injured by an individual.
As a responsible dog owner, it’s to know and follow dog leash laws for the area where you live or visit with your dog.
Many US states have dog leash laws and requirements prohibiting off-leash dogs on public streets, unfenced lots, and more.
These statewide dog leash laws are called “Running at Large Statues.”
Although your state may have a statewide law, many local governments (city, county, borough, town, or municipalities) have their own running-at-large dog leash laws.
Hawai’i statewide dog leash law stipulates that it is unlawful for owners to permit dogs to run at large on public highways, streets, unfenced lots, or not within a sufficient enclosure.
The City & County of Honolulu (island of Oahu) stipulates that an animal control agent or law enforcement officer can deem a dog a stray if not under the control of their owner.
The dog must be under control with a leash, cord, chain, or other means of restraint, not exceeding 8 feet in length.
If the City & County of Honolulu official deems a dog a stray under the guidelines set forth, the dog will be seized and impounded, and the owner will be subjected to fines, jail time, or both.
Fines can run from $50 to $1000 US dollars, and jail time can be up to no more than 30 days.
In addition to the dog being taken away by local authorities, the dog will not necessarily be returned to the owner.
If not already, the dog will be spayed or neutered and placed for adoption.
For your dog’s sake, please don’t risk getting your dog taken away from you, incurring a fine, and possible jail time for having them off leash at any time during your walk.
Protect Your Dog’s Paws and Paw Pads.
Dog paw care before, during, and after walks is one of the most overlooked aspects by dog parents.
Test the ground temperature on hot sunny days before you walk with your dog.
If you can’t honestly hold the back of your hand for 5 seconds on the ground, it’s too hot for your dog’s paws and paw pads to be walking on.
Walking on hot surfaces can burn your dog’s paws and cause first, second, or third-degree burns.
Some lawn fertilizers contain chemicals that can irritate and cause burns on your dog’s paw pads.
In colder climates, snow and ice can act like little shards of glass and cut into your dog’s paws and paw pads.
De-icing chemicals or salt is thrown on the ground to help melt snow and can irritate and burn your dog’s paws and paw pads too.
Dog shoes are an excellent option for protection against injuries to your dog’s paws and paw pads during a walk.
I recommend shoes from Rifruf dog sneakers or Ruffwear dog boots for paw protection during walks.
Rifruf dog sneakers are incredibly similar to human sneakers.
Rifruf dog sneakers offer protection from any potential risk from hot asphalt, chemicals, or debris that can injure your dog’s paws or paw pads, with a fashionable look.
Ruffwear has a variety of dog boots to protect your dog’s paws and paw pads during the summer, winter, or daily walks, no matter the terrain.
I recommend Rifruf dog sneakers and Ruffwear dog boots because they offer the ability to choose different sizes if your dog’s front paws are a different size than their back paws.
Before my dog Julian passed away, he would wear his Rifruf dog sneakers or Ruffwear dog boots whenever we went for a walk around a local park or visited the mainland.
His paws and paw pads were always protected from the hot Hawai’i sidewalks, snowy New York City streets, or questionable walkways with a lot of trash and other sketchy stuff on them.
Stay Visible When Walking Your Dog at Night.
When the sun goes down, practicing safety for walking your dog at night is essential.
Some city or residential street lights are dim or non-existent, and it’s crucial to make your dog seen by vehicles on the road and fellow pedestrians out for a nightly stroll.
Consider using a reflective dog collar and/or harness and leash to help your dog become visible to oncoming vehicles when you’re walking alongside the road or crossing the street.
Headlight Harness is a highly reflective dog harness for nightly walks with your pup.
Not only is Headlight Harness highly reflective, but it also comes equipped with a LED light on the chest plate to light up the ground in front of your dog during their walk.
Headlight Harness also has reflective collars and leashes to purchase for nightly walks with your dog.
Dog walking accessories equipped with LED lights or that light up are also an excellent option to increase your dog’s visibility to drivers and pedestrians.
Practicing safety when walking your dog is crucial for their well-being and yours.
By taking the necessary precautions and being aware of potential dangers, proper safety measures for dog walking, and understanding basic dog leash laws, you can ensure that your walks are enjoyable and stress-free for you and your furry companion.
Remember, your dog’s safety is in your hands, so prioritize it during every walk.