Walk The Dog!
Walking your dog has greater benefits than the obvious need for elimination. What is just as important is their daily exercise, the opportunity for socialization, ongoing training opportunity, and the mental stimulation that comes from exploration that is their basic instinct.
As city dwellers we may be at a disadvantage in providing our canine friends with backyard space and lush neighborhood walks, this is true; however once you can master a varied routine within our urban environment, it is loaded with activities to challenge your dogs' sight, smell, and sound and their ultimately mind, alleviating boredom and creating a happier pup/ happier you. Yes, the concrete jungle with it's urine-stained streets, loud, scary noises, and a growing population of people and animals on our sidewalks can be a challenge to transition to for both humans and dogs. If you find dog walking in DTLA daunting like others who have relocated here, or with a recently rescued new dog, know that with the right gear, tricks, and tips, you can make this daily activity rewarding for you both.
Choosing The Right Gear
Walking your dog in an urban area requires more control of your animal. Choosing harnesses and shorter leads is the best place to start. Frequenting elevators, sidewalks, and pet-friendly shops and cafés are often a part of our daily routine so it's important to keep your dog close, keep them focused on you, and lessen unwanted behaviors like leash pulling, jumping on others, and inappropriate elimination. You can choose a head collar, a front-clip harness, or a step-in harness depending on your dog's behavior or training needs. A four-foot lead is the preferred urban-length lead. Leave the retractable leads for trips to the park-- they can be quite dangerous on sidewalks, in elevators, and in an urban setting in general. Many dog owners are now opting for booties or dog shoes for a safer, more sanitary trip outdoors. Canine footwear comes in several varieties from disposable rubber booties to lightweight nylon sport shoes with easy on Velcro and flexible tread offering a higher level of protection from scalding pavement on hot days, plus the added benefit of clean paws. Be prepared. Pack your dog-walking 'essentials' into something stylish or functional depending on your personal style, don't forget these important things for every walk:
- Poop bags (have several) - Never be caught empty handed, check your supply before each walk
- Mini diluted bleach spray -To sanitize the ground post waste pickup (helps to lessen spread of bacteria/viruses)
- Paper towel -A few folded sheets for unexpected messes
- Bottled H2O -Water for extended walks or to dilute urine on sidewalk
- Mini hand sanitizer - Be courteous of neighbors, if your touching an elevator/doors, please sanitize
- Treats -To keep training ongoing and your dog focused on you
Ready To Walk
Once you're harnessed-up and ready to roll, other than a trip around the block, where do you go? Establishing a set routine is great for Fido; planning 20 minutes a day 2-3 times per day is the required routine for most. To make it more interesting mix it up and vary your route keeping your dog's senses active as your explore. Or for even more benefits, walking with friends creates social situations with humans and other dogs that are sure to mentally stimulate (and exhaust) your dog creating less frustration or anxiety with these regulation positive interactions. You can vary the local routine with regular trips to:
- Dog Parks (Arts District Dog Park, South Park Dog Park)
- Dog Runs (Pershing Square, Grand Park)
- Recreational Parks (Vista Hermosa, Elysian Park, Spring Street Park)
- Or coveted areas of greenery... (LA Library, LAPD lawn, City Hall)
In dense areas such as ours, 'petiquette' is paramount in the elevators, lobbies, on the street, and in the neighborhood. Your dog's behavior is reflection of you so be considerate of others and maintain control of your dog at all times. Always clean up after your dog. You have the ability to control your dog and train them toward the appropriate spots to eliminate. This never should include inside elevators, the sides or entrances of buildings, planters, or trashcans. By being aware and reading their body language you can anticipate their behavior, guiding them toward a more appropriate location outside such as tree well, turf patch, or by curbing them. If accidents happen, utilizing your walking supplies mentioned above is considerate to others to minimize the mess left behind. Also be mindful of encountering other dogs or humans; always be leashed, and if you experience negative behaviors from your dog like leash reactivity, pulling on the leash, or jumping on people, it's best to seek out some training advice from a dog professional trainer. Conversely, you have to also consider that although your pooch may not be reactive, always approach others with caution as their dogs may lack social skills and training. To avoid confrontations, keeping a safe distance and encouraging 'introductions' nose to rear is much more polite. Again, reading their body language is such an important part of managing positive dog-on-dog social interactions.
Be The Leader Of The Pack
Creating that routine and providing more structure for your daily walks is something that you dog needs. Making each outing a fun, mini-adventure will go a long way in strengthening your relationship with your pooch. Asking for a 'sit' in the elevator and at stop lights, walking alongside of you, and asking for a 'wait' before entering through a door, are all little things you can do each day and reward your well-mannered companion for being a civilized canine.
Get out and walk-- Shop local Labor Day Weekend for the best variety of gear to outfit your dogs. The Pet Experts at Pussy & Pooch can get you fitted in any variety of harnesses, leads, accessories, or recommend the everyday essentials best for you. Our best-selling leather Buddy Belt harnesses handcrafted in Canada will be featured at 25% off during Shop Walk/Historic Core on Sunday September 6th. These items rarely go on sale, so don't miss this!