The Dos and Don’ts for Walking with Your Dog by Animal Planet’s Pet Expert Andrea Arden

Street sidewalks, paved roads, backyard trails, parks, or the woods, are the among the perfect scenes for you and your pooch to enjoy a walk on this National Walking Day.

A walk in the park with your dog sounds as easy as that, a walk in the park. But it turns out; it’s not as simple as it seems. For National Walking Day, we asked CEO of andrea arden and Animal Planet’s pet expert, Andrea Arden about the most common mistakes dog owners make when walking their furry four-legged friends.

“Keep it simple,” Arden says. “What is walking nicely on a leash? Start by just defining it for yourself.”

Read on for the most common mistakes dog owners make while walking their dogs and how Arden suggests to correct them.

Note: the mistakes aren’t ranked in any particular order.

Mistake #1: Using a retractable leash. It’s spring cleaning season, so time to throw away your retractable leashes! “I don’t know a trainer who would recommend a retractable leash if you want your dog to walk nicely and pleasantly by your side, because they are designed to not only allow the dog a far range but also because the nature of the leash is always taught. It essentially helps to teach the dog to pull,” Arden explains. She recommends a standard leash.  

Mistake #2: Not paying attention or being engaged. Your dog is your best friend, so act like it on the walk, too! “You often see people walking down the street on their phones. That’s the thing that they’re most engaged with when you need to be most engaged with your dog on the walk more so than anything else,” Arden says. She further explains that if you don’t focus on your dog, they’re probably going to check out on you as well. “Meaning the dog is investigating other dogs, pulling towards or jumping on people, and pulling towards different sniffing spots. All of this competes with what most people would define as a pleasant walk,” she explains.

Mistake #3: Being afraid your dog won’t have fun. Just like a little fun won’t hurt anybody, rules won’t either. “In the dog owners’ minds, they say, ‘well that doesn’t seem like my dog will have fun on the walk if they don’t sniff at things or say hi to other dogs or people,’” Arden says. “We understand that at first, it seems to mean not to let your dog do whatever it wants on a walk, but if your goal is to have a walk that is under control and calm, then you need to set some boundaries.”

Mistake #4: Letting your dog pull. You know you don’t like when your dog pulls you, so don’t let your dog do it! “Pulling towards other dogs and walking nicely don’t go together. They compete. So as much as people are well-intentioned wanting to let their dogs go say hi to other animals, it’s very ill-advised on many levels,” Arden says. She explains that dogs can’t understand that some days you will let him or her pull you to the dog up the street, and other days you won’t have any of it. “It’s about creating a mannerly dog,” she says.  

Mistake #5: The amount of freedom owners give their dogs. Sometimes space isn’t always the answer to a healthy partnership, especially with your dog on a walk. “In any relationship where you’re trying to create good manners, starting with stricter guidelines is your ultimate goal,” Arden says. She explains that the amount of lead you give your dog on a leash depends on how well trained he or she is. “The better and more mannerly a dog is the more freedom he or she can have.”

Mistake #6: Not using a leash. When in doubt, pull the leash out. “Even the best trainer in America’s dog won’t always come when called. 100 percent reliability is an impossible goal,” Arden explains. “There might be a car driving by, or another dog who isn’t friendly with other dogs; it should always be on a leash.”

Mistake #7: Using a harness. Safety is the number one priority when walking your dog. “The vast majority of dogs I have seen and heard of getting loose on the street get loose because they slip out of an ill-fitted harness,” Arden explains. She says that once an elbow comes loose from the harness, the dog’s head will too and then all of a sudden your dog is free. “I do understand why people choose these; because they think they’re the most comfortable tool to use on the dog. But the number one rule of thumb is to choose a tool based on safety.”

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Emily Garber

Freelance & Content Site Editor

Emily is always on the look-out for pet-related news and trends. She FaceTimes with her two dogs, Tucker and Stella, and her cat Miley at least once a day!

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