Walking the dog is something many of us have the privilege of enjoying, particularly in the countryside. The outdoors is for everyone, so it’s important that we’re all responsible dog owners, keeping our outdoor spaces clean and beautiful, and making sure our furry friends are kept under control at all times.
Now, more so than ever, we need to keep a close eye on our canine companions as we’re walking them. With the pandemic sweeping over the nation, social distancing applies to our pets as much as it applies to us. It’s important that we continue to enjoy walking the dog, and it’s even more important to keep them, us and our communities safe.
The countryside code is there to enable as many people as possible to enjoy the outdoors, whether we’re walking the dog or out for a run. When you’re walking the dog, make sure to always consider other countryside goers and don’t let your dog invade other people’s space by jumping up or barking at them excitedly.
One of the biggest rules of the countryside is always leave no trace of your visit. This includes taking your litter home, and when you’re walking the dog it means picking up after them and never leaving waste bags in bushes or hedges. These are unsightly for other walkers, and often end up being forgotten and left there.
When you’re walking the dog off the lead, only do so if you can keep your dog under effective control, making sure that they don’t cause any unwanted mischief or disturbance, particularly if you’re walking the dog near other animals and livestock. If you’re unsure of your dog’s recall abilities, it’s much safer just to keep them on a lead. However, if a farm animal begins to chase you as you’re walking the dog, it’s much safer for the both of you to let go of your dog. Your dog is much quicker and more agile without being attached to you, so will be able to escape more easily, and you are less of a threat to livestock without your dog, so they’ll be more likely to leave you alone and let you move on so you can continue walking the dog in peace.
Always make sure to follow any signs and instructions about where you may enjoy walking the dog, as not all paths permit our furry friends. You could even learn what the different footpath signs mean, such as open access land, closed access and footpaths where you’ll need to keep your dog on a lead.
When walking the dog, always make sure you take everything they might need. This includes plenty of water, as, depending on where you’re walking the dog, there might not be any access to water, and we don’t want to see your pooch dehydrated. Take plenty of poo bags, as you never do know how many you’ll need and take a towel to dry off afterwards, particularly if your four-legged friend enjoys a dip.
Many dogs simply can’t resist saying hello when they see a fellow pup approaching, but use your best judgement on this. If the other dog looks excited and their tail is wagging away nicely, it should be fine to let your dog introduce themselves. However, if a dog looks uncomfortable, is rigid or even baring their teeth, it’s best not to let your dog approach. Whilst some dogs love other dogs, many others feel threatened by them and may even respond aggressively if your curious canine gets too close for comfort.
Always remember that if you’re walking the dog in public, by law they must be microchipped and wearing a collar with an ID tag that has your name and address on it.
Walking The Dog in Lockdown
Many dog owners have been concerned about walking the dog during the lockdown that many countries all over the world are currently experiencing. Just remember though, that in many countries it’s still OK to continue walking the dog, as long as nobody in your household is showing any symptoms of COVID-19 and you and your dog follow the social distancing guidelines at all times. This means only walking the dog if you feel well and healthy enough to do so, and do not meet up with friends or other dog walkers to walk together.
You can practice social distancing when you’re walking the dog by avoiding busy areas and always keeping at least two metres between you and anyone else. If possible, try not to allow your dog to interact with any other humans or animals, and often, using a lead is the best way to do this, ensuring that you have full control over your dog’s whereabouts at all times.
Always wash your hands before you head out, and as soon as you get back from walking the dog. It’s also a good idea to wipe down or wash your dog after your outings. As tempting as it is, try not to touch other people’s dogs if they do come up to you. Whilst COVID-19 cannot be transmitted through animals, if someone with the virus has coughed or sneezed on their dog, the virus can spread to people or animals who then touch the dog. Just smile and say hello and continue walking along the path, the dog will soon get distracted by something else!
It’s important to put together a plan for walking the dog if you do have to quarantine yourself. You can ask a friend, relative or neighbour to take on walking the dog if you are unable to, but always follow social distancing guidelines when handing your dog over and welcoming them back. If your dog is struggling to entertain themselves, there are plenty of ways you can have fun together. As well as walking the dog, you can play indoor games, create an indoor obstacle course, learn some new tricks or even set up a sniffing game for your dog to hunt out their favourite treats.
Walking My Dog
I feel very lucky in these current circumstances to have a dog, and she’s one of the things I include in my list of things to be grateful for right now. Being a Hungarian Vizsla, she’s quite a large dog, and with her only being about one and a half, she usually requires a fair bit of exercise. She took a lot of getting used to lockdown, and I think it’s because it’s impossible to explain to a dog what’s going on. At first, my partner and I still walked her together once per day in the afternoon, but I soon realised this wasn’t going to work. I can gauge many of her facial expressions and throughout my day of working at home, I was getting the side-eye a lot. She wasn’t happy with me for not taking her for her usual morning walk, and for being incredibly boring and sitting at my computer all day rather than petting and playing with her.
Lockdown has taken a lot of getting used to for everyone, and I think we’ve all found ways of making our routines work better for ourselves. A miserable dog is what it took for me to start going for my once a day walk at lunchtime, meaning Seal got to have another walk, and I noticed her becoming happier and less moody as the days went by. She started eating better, she started moping less and she even started playing with her toys on her own; something she’d completely lost interest in at the start of lockdown.
I’m also lucky enough to live near an array of public footpaths, as well as a park for walking the dog, so I’ve still been able to let her off the lead for a run around and I’ve had plenty of walks to choose from every day. I’ve also discovered a few more footpaths that I never knew existed before, bringing some excitement to every walk, and not just for Seal! Lockdown is making us all appreciate the little things, and for me this includes walking the dog and all these new discoveries.
If you’re looking for the perfect outfit for walking the dog, you should always include a lightweight jacket, particularly with the weather being so unpredictable these days. Our NESSH Jacket is lightweight, warm and has plenty of pockets for treats, poo bags and toys to keep your dog truly looked after on every walk.