With the right strategies and useful accessories, you can make the most of daily strolls with your canine companion.
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"Be sure equipment fits your dog's size and needs," says Emily Weiss, an animal behaviorist with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Harnesses are a good choice for dogs who pull while on a leash because they minimize the risk of throat injuries, especially for smaller breeds. A regular flat-buckle collar is fine for a calm dog. A martingale-style collar -- a humane alternative to chain collars -- can't slip off and offers extra security for an energetic dog.
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Leash and Harness
Choose a six-foot-long leash in a width appropriate for your dog's size (the bigger your dog, the wider the leash). Avoid retractable leashes, which reinforce pulling and can snap or injure your hand if your dog rushes ahead, says Mychelle Blake of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. Even well-mannered dogs pull on their leashes occasionally, and a harness lessens neck strain when this happens.
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Dogs require two kinds of walks: bathroom breaks and exercise. A young puppy can hold its urine one more hour than its age in months; by about 8 months, a dog should go out every six to eight hours. When it comes to exercise, aim for two walks a day. A brisk walk around the block is fine for a low-energy dog; a 20-minute walk suits a dog with medium energy; and a rambunctious dog requires more than 30 minutes per walk.
Stow necessities such as waste bags and keys in this leash pouch. Dog Walker Pro Pack, trixieandpeanut.com.
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On long walks, especially in hot weather, it's wise to take along a collapsible water bowl or a pet water bottle. If it's sunny, apply a sunscreen formulated for pets to the ears, the muzzle, and other areas where skin is exposed; light-colored and light-coated dogs are particularly prone to sunburn. If insects prey on your dog, use a pet-specific repellent (ones made for humans are toxic to dogs). And don't forget treats if you're leash-training.
Keep your pup well hydrated with this foldable silicone bowl. Tazlab bowl, tazlab.com.
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Let your dog sniff and explore. Its personality can dictate new destinations: A shy dog might prefer a quiet park to a crowded street. Practice training on walks, such as encouraging your dog to "sit" at intervals or "stay" at corners. Or walk with a pal who also has a canine. Most important, try not to rush, so you can both enjoy your time outside.
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