10 Most Common Dog Walking Mistakes

Published: 12/3/2020

There’s no simpler way to exercise your dog than to take them for a walk, right? Dog, leash, walking shoes, and placing one foot in front of the other — dog-friendly activities don’t get much easier than that.

While that may be true, there are many common dog walking mistakes that can make walking much less enjoyable, safe, and productive for you and your pup. Keep reading to find out about the 10 signs that you’re doing dog walking wrong.

#1. Turning a blind eye to pulling on the leash

Is walking your dog like entering into a battle of wills with your fur-baby? Do you finish every walk with a sore shoulder and a look of frustration in your eyes?

Walking shouldn’t be like that, so it’s time to put a stop to your dog’s leash-pulling antics. Training your dog to stop pulling on their leash will take some time and patience, but it’s well worth doing. Make sure you have a good supply of treats on hand and reward your pup for doing the right thing.

It won’t take them long to figure out why walking politely on the lead is a much better way to get around.

#2. Rushing through it

You and your pup might have things to do and places to be, but that doesn’t mean you should just try to get your walk over and done with as quickly as possible. 

Walking isn’t just about exercise for pups — it also provides vital mental stimulation. That’s why it’s important to give your dog a chance to sniff all those interesting smells, stop to say “hi” to other pets and people, and take some time finding the right spot to go potty.

It may only mean that your walk takes 5 or 10 minutes longer, but it can make a whole lot of difference to your pup’s happiness.

#3. Not picking up poop

Yeah, yeah — we don’t enjoy doing it either. But cleaning up after your dog is just one of those things you have to do as a pet parent. By picking up your dog’s poop, you’re doing your bit to show the world that dogs deserve to be allowed in public spaces, on busy sidewalks, and wherever we might want to take them.

Make sure you always have a couple of poop bags with you when you head out the door so you’ll never get caught short. And always clean up after your pup, even if no one else is watching.

#4. Approaching unfamiliar pooches without asking

Unless you live in a rural or remote area, chances are you’ll regularly encounter other dogs while out walking your pup. That’s a good thing, but it can sometimes cause problems.

Some dogs simply don’t get on well with other pooches. Others may be anxious, fearful, or stressed, particularly about meeting an unfamiliar dog when on the leash. In the wrong circumstances, this could lead to that dog lashing out.

That’s why you should always check with the other dog’s handler to make sure it’s fine for your pooch to approach. If they give you the okay, it’s time for your pup to make a new friend.

#5. Stopping your dog from socializing

While it’s always important to ask before approaching unfamiliar dogs, that doesn’t mean you should try to stop your dog from socializing at all on your walk. 

Many pups love the chance to “meet and greet” a few of their canine counterparts while out for a stroll, not to mention get to know any friendly people they may come across. It’s also great mental stimulation for your pet, and will help teach them the right way to interact with new people and dogs.

So if it’s alright with the other dog or person, let your pup stop and say “hello” for a little while. It’ll do your dog a whole world of good, and you might even make a new friend too.

#6. Letting your pooch run free

We all love seeing the joy on our dogs’ faces when they’re given the chance to get off the leash and let their fur down. But that doesn’t mean you should let your pup enjoy some leash-free romping just anywhere.

Unless you’re in a fully fenced area, it’s not safe for your pup to wander off the leash. They could potentially stray onto a busy road, come into contact with an unfriendly dog, or simply lose sight of you and get lost. They could also scare young kids or people who simply don’t like dogs, while there’s always the risk of ending up facing a hefty fine.

So if you’re looking for somewhere to let your pup enjoy some off-leash adventures, start searching for dog-friendly parks near you.

#7. Forcing them to do too much

It’s also important to monitor your dog closely for any signs of physical distress. If the weather is too hot or too cold, or if you’re simply pushing your dog beyond their limits, it’s time to stop immediately.

If you’re unsure about just how much exercise your pet can tolerate, take them to the vet for a check-up. Your veterinarian can then advise you on safe ways to help your pup stay active and healthy.

#8. Using the wrong leash or harness

The old cliche is that a poor craftsman blames their tools, but this saying doesn’t apply when it comes to walking your dog. If you don’t have the right equipment when walking your dog, it can cause a range of problems.

If your pup has a problem with pulling, a shoulder harness can reduce strain on their neck, and special head harnesses can help control their poor on-leash behavior.  

Retractable leashes should also be avoided. Not only do they reward your dog for pulling, but they also make it easy to get tangled up with people and other obstacles. Use a leash with a maximum length of 6 feet for the best chance of a safe and successful walk.

#9. Forgetting to engage with your pup

It can be pretty easy to get distracted when you’re out walking your dog. Whether you’ve got problems at work or the group chat on your phone is getting spicy, it can be tempting to let your mind wander.

But remember, not only is this a great opportunity for some one-on-one time with your dog, but you and your pup could potentially encounter plenty of hazards along the way. So give your dog your full attention for the duration of your walk — you’ll have a whole lot more fun, and it’ll help you develop a stronger bond with your fur-baby.

#10. Treating your walk like it’s a chore

It’s been a long day and you just want to put your feet up, even though you know your pupper is super keen to head out for a walk. And let’s face it, sometimes walking the dog can be an unpleasant experience — cold and rainy days, we’re looking at you! 

But don’t ever fall into the habit of treating dog walks like they’re a necessary evil, a boring chore you just want to get out of the way as quickly as possible.

Spending time with your dog should be fun. It should be special. It should be something you look forward to each and every day.  After all, that’s why you became a pet parent.

We know you want to get out there and make the most of every moment you have with your pup. But we also understand life happens. Late nights at the office and family emergencies will crop up and cut into your walk time.

When you feel you just don’t have enough hours in the day, dog walkers on the Wag! platform will be delighted to keep your canine company. 95% of Wag! walks end in a flawless 5-star review. Find a dog walker near you and discover what all the neighborhood pups are barking about!