Did you know that January is not only National Train Your Dog month, but Walk Your Pet month as well? It makes sense that the start of the new year would be focused on learning and health (and it’s clear that these themes hold true for our pets)! If you’d like to walk your dog more–or even your cat–here are some tips to keep in mind.
Always keep him on a leash
Winter, more than any other season, would be a horrible time for your pet to run away and get lost. Prevent any escapes with a good quality leash and collar (and always make sure your pet has ID tags and is microchipped). If you’re walking with a cat, make sure he’s on a harness. Keep your pet close to you and keep on the lookout for any potential distractions (such as other dogs or squirrels).
Start off easy
If you haven’t walked Fluffy in a while, start off with short, easy strolls around the neighborhood. Especially as the temperatures drop, you don’t want to be out for too long in the cold. Help Fluffy adjust to the cold by outfitting her with a sweater, coat, or bandana. As she gets more and more used to it (the walking and the cold), you can slowly start to extend your walking time and distance.
The fastest way for people to get fit is to add intervals to our fitness routines, and animals are the same way! Try spicing up your evening stroll with a couple bouts of speed-walking, or break into a jog a few times on your already speedy walks. Breaking up the routine is also a great way of keeping your pet interested and engaged with you, instead of becoming distracted by outside forces (read: those pesky squirrels). Just be mindful of ice, which can easily trip you or your pet.
If you have a cat, intervals can still work. Just think less running and more speed-walking.
Keep safe in the dark
The night comes in faster in the winter, so that means a 6 p.m. walk around the park is very dark. Mornings are the same way. To keep yourself and your pet on other pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists’ radars, outfit yourself and Fluffy with some reflective gear. A glow-in-the-dark or lighted leash/collar is a great idea for Fido, and you could wear some reflective or light-colored clothing to make yourself stand out more.
Also, beyond being noticed by others, pay careful attention to the ground you are walking on/where you are walking to. Don’t walk in wintery conditions such as freezing rain or sleet, as they could worsen and potentially cause you and Fido to get lost, become stuck somewhere, or slip. Use common sense and caution!
Be mindful of ice
Wintery conditions only escalate in January, so when you’re on your walk, pay attention to where you step! Black ice is often hard to see, especially at night. Use caution, and if you feel that the sidewalks are a little too slippery, it’s ok to head home. You don’t want Fido to see a squirrel and take off running, only to pull you, slipping and sliding, all the way down the street. Also, ice and snow can be painful to your pet’s paws (they don’t have snow boots like we do!). If you must walk in wintery conditions, make sure Fido has waterproof booties or socks made specifically for him.
. . .
With these tips, you and your pet can have a great, active month of walking!