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Many dogs react to the word “walk” with pure joy and excitement! It’s generally the highlight of their day. All the interesting sights and sounds, and the whole world to explore!
But for nervous dogs, heading out for a daily walk can be a relatively stressful experience.
They may be reluctant to encounter the sights, sounds, smells, people, and other animals that exist in the outside world.
There are steps you can take in order to ensure that your dog gets their exercise without feeling too stressed about the entire situation. Read on to learn more!
Make Sure You Have the Right Walking Equipment
Before you take your pup out on a walk, you need to make sure you’re prepared. Have all of the necessary items to make the walk safe and comfortable for them.
Any time you take your dog out, ensure they have a sturdy collar with their name and your contact details attached on a tag. We swear by Boomerang Tags. They are durable and wrap around your dog’s collar without clinking around.
These waterproof dog collars are great for dogs that like to roll in the dirt or play in puddles. You also want to get a comfortable harness and a leash. These allow you to keep a hold of them while you’re walking.
You should also ensure that you have plenty of water to quench their thirst if you’re going on an extended walk or if it’s very warm out.
I bring plenty of tiny, bite-size treats to reward them for positive interactions with other dogs or people. Making sure your pet is comfortable will encourage them to associate walks with positivity and fun.
Oh, and don’t forget the poop bags! It can be difficult to manage all these items, though. I have a dedicated dog-walking pouch I put on before heading out.
This waist pack from WATERFLY is perfect for taking Roxy and Rico out for neighborhood walks. It’s got enough storage for my phone, keys, poop bags, and their snacks.
Always Keep Your Dog On A Leash
Many dog owners are tempted to let their dog walk off the leash. It allows them to exert more energy, bounding across fields or other spaces you may be walking them in.
However, it truly is best to keep them on-leash while out in public, unless you are in a dog park or other area where dogs are allowed to be off leash. You also need to be 100% confident in your dog’s recall before letting them off-leash.
Nervous dogs are easily frightened or surprised and chances are that when something intimidates them, they’ll set off in the opposite direction.
While this is an instinctive reaction, it could prove extremely dangerous for them – they could get lost, they could stumble and hurt themselves, or they could run directly into a road or other dangerous space.
One time I took Rico for a walk in our neighborhood in Puerto Rico, shortly after rescuing him off the street. We walked by a large bush when out of nowhere, tons of coqui frogs started chirping. LOUDLY.
Poor Rico about jumped out of his skin, panicked, and nervous pooped…all at the same time. It was a disaster! If he didn’t have a sturdy leash on, I’m sure he would have taken off and hidden somewhere. It’s just not worth the risk to let him off-leash.
Plus, there are tons of bears and moose where we live, so that’s another factor in keeping them leashed unless in a fenced-in area.
Don’t Be Shy About Alerting Others to Your Dog’s Personality
Some dogs feel threatened or intimidated by other dogs or contact with people they do not know.
So, if someone is allowing their dog to walk in your dog’s direction, or if they are heading to pet your dog uninvited, don’t be afraid to say something.
Politely explain that your pet is anxious and request that they keep their distance and call their own dogs away.
Stick With Frequent Walks
Rico is very anxious when meeting new people, and as his mom, it’s my job to help him through scary situations.
Since we have a huge fenced backyard, it’s easy to avoid walks altogether, but that doesn’t do him any favors with overcoming fears.
The more often we stick with walks, the easier they get for him to manage and actually have fun during them.
We definitely slack off more during the winter when it’s below zero out, but try to get out as much as possible when it warms up.
Sure, walking a nervous dog can be a little more difficult and take more preparation than walking your average dog. But hopefully, the above advice will help to make the entire process as simple as possible for both of you!