National Walk Your Dog Month

A new year is all about setting goals and setting out to improve yourself from the previous year. Many times this includes vowing to exercise more, which is easily accomplished since January is also National Walk Your Dog month! Make 2016 the chance to form a healthier you and a healthier dog! Make the experience positive for both you and your canine by following these simple steps from

Be the pack leader

Be in charge when you walk your dog. Use confident body language—head up, shoulders back—and don’t let your dog walk in front of you. Your dog should walk beside you or slightly behind. If your dog pulls ahead, shouting won’t get him to return to your side. Reinforce good behavior by rewarding with a treat when he’s walking by your side, and that will help keep them in the a closer, safer place next to you opposed to running into the street or chasing after a neighborhood cat.

Practice leash lessons

Many of us live in cities and neighborhoods where leashes are a must. Choose the right one for your dog. There are many types of leashes, and the one that’s best for you is the one you feel most comfortable holding. Whichever type of leash you use, keep it short, but not too tight. Your dog will be discouraged from bolting, dawdling or wandering, and you can maintain close communication and control. Until your dog knows how to walk without pulling, view walks as training sessions, and keep them short, frequent and low stress. Again, reward your dog with treats when he stays by your side.

Bring the necessities

Make the walk pleasant for you and your dog. Always carry bags for cleaning up and disposing of doggie poop—leaving dog waste is not only a health hazard, but in many cities, it’s a code violation. Don’t forget to hydrate. Carry water for yourself and your dog, especially in warmer weather. Dogs can lap water from your cupped hands, or you can carry a collapsible water bowl.  Don’t forget to pack your dog’s favorite bite-size treats for rewarding good behavior or good old hunger pangs!

Change it up

To make walks more fun for you and your dog, rove a little. Travel off the beaten path by taking your dog on different routes, going to cool places like one of the great dog parks in the Metro, or a friend’s house (preferably a dog owner!), and taking walks with buddies—borrowing a friend’s dog or asking another owner to join you on your walk.

Know how far to go

How much walking time is enough for your dog? Every dog’s exercise needs are different; there is no single right answer. Factors to consider are size (especially the length of his or her legs), breed, age, general health, and the walking environment. Watch your dog while you’re walking. If he starts panting and slowing down, you’ve gone far enough. Did he used to go for miles and now he can do only a few blocks? It could be due to aging, but play it on the safe side and check with your vet.

Brookside Barkery is a strong supporter of Walk Your Dog Month and wants to encourage owners to get out of the house and improve their pets’ health as well as their own! Stop by the Lee’s Summit or Brookside Barkery location and receive a free $5 certificate when you ask for a free nutritional consultation. The Barkery is also the perfect place to get all the essentials for walking your dog! Pick up a new leash, some treats and doggie disposal bags to clean up after your pooch, and you will soon find walking your dog is a fun, relaxing activity both you and your dog can enjoy!

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