Walking a new dog can be challenging, especially if you know nothing about their personality. The trick to successfully walking a new dog is to gain their trust, learn their likes and dislikes, and come prepared — but this is easier said than done. This step-by-step guide will teach you everything you need to know to prepare for a new baby or furry client.
Learning your new pup's temperament, triggers, and health issues is paramount for a successful walking experience. Any number of things could go wrong on a dog walk, and it's up to you to avoid the things that may cause problems.
For instance, the pup could eat something they're allergic to or run off after being startled by a known trigger. Both of these incidences can be avoided by attaining some background information and evaluating them in different situations.
Questions to ask about a new dog
What is their typical temperament? Are they shy, fearful, or energetic around new people or animals?
What is Fido afraid of? Do mail carriers make their fur stand on end? You need to know!
Are there any mobility problems you need to know about? Issues climbing stairs or jumping?
Does Fluffy have prior medical conditions you should know about? Do they take emergency meds for allergies, seizures, or other chronic conditions with abrupt onset?
Does the dog have aggression triggers? If so, what are they? Food, people, or other animals?
Does the dog have food, medication, or environmental allergies? If so, what happens during a reaction? What should you do if they come in contact with a known allergen?
Does the dog come from a rough background? e.g., neglect, rescue situation, or abuse? If so, how does that affect their personality and triggers?
Don't expect a new dog to take to you immediately. Trust takes time for most dogs, but once you have it, you'll have it for a lifetime. Treats and pets are a surefire way to win over a timid woofer. Just keep coaxing them to come to you and show them you’re harmless. Don't force the new dog to come to you or yell at them to do so — this will only make them wary of you.
Treats will get you far in the dog world, but there are a few other things you'll need to bring when walking a new dog. Front-clip style harnesses are usually the best pick for dogs you're unfamiliar with, since they’ll give you more control. Make sure you pair the harness with a short yet sturdy leash for maximum control. You'll also need a roll of poo bags and some water in case the pup is prone to overheating.
Take your time when walking a new dog and give them a chance to stop and sniff. This will further build trust and teach the dog to enjoy walks with you. If this is their first time walking the area, you can expect them to sniff and mark everything in sight. Don't rush the process. Be patient and don't scold them for excitedly peeing on every bush. Moreover, paying attention to the places Fido likes to potty can give you hints about their favorite spots, which can be helpful to know if you're in a rush.
Last but certainly not least, frequently reward your new baby. Rewards build trust and confidence and will reinforce positive behaviors. Give high-value treats every time the dog behaves appropriately, then gradually phase out treats as their trust and good conduct builds. With some treats, encouragement, and a little know-how, you and Fido will forge a bond that no one can break!
Are you thinking about taking in a new pup? How exciting! Check out our "ultimutt" guide for preparing for a new puppy for more info.