One of the best ways to keep our dogs mentally and physically fit and healthy is to take them out and about with us. As dog owners we love taking our dogs out and about, so it is so important to make sure that our dogs not only experience going to a range of different places but that they know how to behave in public.
Having basic manners, learning to walk nicely on the leash and learning how to cope with being in a new environment that is exciting and distracting are all crucial things for our dogs to learn so we can take them out with us. The better behaved our dogs learn to be when going out and about, the more likely we are to take them places and the more we are going to enjoy being active with them.
When I started working at K9 Pro a few weeks ago, Steve asked me if I’d like to take out his youngest Malinois pup, Wisdom, on some social outings as due to lack of time neither Steve nor Alison had been able to take her out as frequently as they’d like to.
Wisdom is eight months old and is an excitable high drive working line pup so it’s crucial that she experiences going out to lots of places and learning what the world is like and what behaviour she needs to exhibit when she goes out in public.
I jumped at the opportunity as I love taking my dogs out and about and having just moved to Sydney I knew it would be a good opportunity for me to visit a range of new places too!
The first weekend Wis and I went on a walk at Memorial Park in Richmond. This was a great opportunity to test her out and see how she would be under moderate distraction and to expose her to a range of different things – people and children on bikes and scooters, other dogs, people jogging etc.
We then visited Richmond town centre where Wis and I walked up and down the main street, past busy stores and lots of shoppers and passersby, traffic and lots of new sights and smells. Wis has a great work ethic and is easy to switch into drive, but like all dogs it’s important for her to know the difference between when it’s time to work and having basic manners out of drive when walking down the street or in the park.
For this reason while Wisdom is still learning how to behave appropriately in different settings, I always walk her with the leash attached to her collar when I want her to be calm and well mannered in public, and I attach the leash to her harness when doing drive work to help her distinguish between the two.
Wisdom wears one of our Ruff Wear Webmaster harnesses which is the same harness I also use on my beagle Daisy. These are my all time favourite harnesses as not only do they fit the dogs great and dogs can’t back out of them, they are super hard wearing, light weight and the handle makes it easy to grab a hold of the dog. You can use these harnesses to lift dogs in and out of the car, with rehabilitation work, drive work and training and much more. The material also wipes clean super easily!
I’ve also taken Wisdom to Macquarie Park to go swimming, this was Wis’s first time swimming and she loved the water! We’ve been bush walking and have also gone on a few walks through Windsor town centre where Wis is exposed to lots of people, other dogs, exciting sights and sounds which helps her learn how to behave appropriately in public.
Each time we take our dogs somewhere we are not only giving them great mental and physical exercise but we are letting them learn what behaviour is appropriate and it give us opportunity to ensure we reinforce the behaviour we want to see. We are more likely to take our dogs out and about when they have manners and know how to behave in public and it also sets a good example of responsible dog ownership. It has been really fun helping expose Wisdom to lots of new and exciting environments and watching her learn how to be a good doggy citizen.
The other positive about taking your dog out more is that they learn how to travel in the car. Wisdom always travels in one of our K9 Pro Soft Crates, but you could also use a car harness. She’s learning to get in and out of the car on command so that she can exit and enter the car safely.
With the weather warming up it means we will have more hours of daylight and more reasons to take our dogs out and about with us. I am a bit of an equipment addict, so I thought I’d share a list of what I think are essential items for taking your dogs out on the town (and beach and park and bush walks and more!)
Especially crucial in warmer weather, I never leave the house without either a water rover; buddy bowl or squishy bowl. We also have a new range of water containers called Speed-E-Drinks which are also super when taking your dogs on walks as it can attach to your belt, pants or treat pouch.
I always carry either a treat pouch or similar not only so I can carry treats, but also so I have somewhere to put keys, my phone, dog poo bags and any other essential items. Lately I’ve found I’ve been using the Kyjen Hands Free Leash more often than my treat pouch as it’s so slim lined and useful! We also have the Kyjen Leash Mates that you can attach to your leash in seconds that will carry your keys, dog treats and poo bags for you!
A good quality leash and collar
It’s no secret that at K9 Pro we pride ourselves on having great quality leashes and collars, but having had both leashes and collars fail in the past when I’ve been walking my dogs I feel having a good quality leash and collar that you can rely on is a matter of safety. Wisdom wears our soft hide flat collar or one of our martingale collars and of course she has a matching soft hide leash. Safe and stylish!
Especially because Wisdom is still a pup and her recall isn’t 100% under distraction, I always have one our gripper long lines on hand when I want to take her swimming, do some drive work or work on her recall. I especially love the gripper leashes for swimming because they don’t hold water like other leashes.
Depending on what you do with your dogs these aren’t always essential, but if you are going to use a long line I always recommend attaching it to a harness rather than straight to the dog’s collar as it’s safer and more comfortable for the dog. My all time favourite harness is the Ruff Wear Webmasters especially for if you are active with your dog. Our range of Dean and Tyler harnesses are also excellent especially if you want to be able to attach a patch like ‘Give me space’ or ‘In Training’ when taking your dog in public. Our K9 Pro premium leather harnesses are excellent for people with bigger dogs and it’s what Steve uses on Venom.
There are a range of great active toys you can take out with your dog, depending on the activities you are doing. Wisdom is very tug driven so I always have a tug on hand, I particularly love the rolled leather tug but what tug you use of course depends on your dog (see our article about choosing a tug toy here). If you take your dog swimming and they love retrieving there are plenty of great toys you can throw that float like Kong Wubbas, Orbee balls and most of the Planet Dog and JW Pet range float too. For dogs that love chasing balls you can’t go past the Chuckit range of balls and Chuckit launchers, Steve loves using the Chuckit launchers with Venom!
With the weather warming up I’ll be sure to share with you updates on the places Wisdom and I visit together! Where do you like to take your dog out and about? What essential items do you always pack with you? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!