Walking your dog is a great way to reduce stress and keep fit. It can also be challenging whether you are dealing with a new canine addition to your home or going out with an old well known furry friend.

Following a few key tips can make the necessary task a positive experience. Of course, if you don’t want to walk the dog yourself, you can always hire a professional walker to do the job for you.

Safety First

Your first concern when exercising your dog is safety, yours and his/hers. Choose dog and people friendly areas. Stay away from dark, hidden or high crime area.

Be sure to know the terrain well or bring a paper map entering unknown territory. Gps is nice to have but 100 percent reliability is unheard of 100 percent of the time.

Hydrate Ahead

Most people do not consider the importance of H20. All animals and humans are made up mostly of water and we need it to survive.

Consider that what we drink today prepares us for tomorrow so be sure to make it a habit versus a last minute detail. Bring enough water for everyone if you plan on going for a long walk.

Take Control

Having a leader is a comforting part of many tasks. Animals especially benefit from guidance, consistency and positive communication. So when it is time to go take the lead.

Be the first to exit (and enter) your home and encourage your dog to walk beside or behind you unless given permission to explore. Using a short leash or shortening a long one will help guide your dog.

Take Time

Be aware of the time and give yourself and your dog enough of it. Dogs are sensitive to our emotions and rushing is never fun. Mornings are ideal and preparation takes away unnecessary negativity and adds to the relaxing experience.

Bring Bags

Picking up after your dog should not be seen as unappealing. While it may not be the most pleasant part of the walk it is as necessary as the walk is. No one wants to step in it or see it. It is unsanitary and unwelcome.

Bringing enough bags helps avoid the temptation of just leaving it there to be seen on the next go around.

Best Leash

The best leash is actually the one you and your pet are the most comfortable with. Be aware that chain leashes are heavier so they may not do as well on a petite dog but can do wonders with a cutie who likes to tug or bite the leash.

Nylon leashes are cute and durable but sudden strong movements can cause an owner leash burn. Consider leather leashes a good option for smaller hands or feisty friends.

Positive Reinforcement

A kind word or a hearty laugh goes a long way. Dogs are naturally pleasant and they love to make people happy. Using solid words like “good boy” or “yes girl” lets them know when they are doing right.

Avoid strong negatives for small mishaps because they can be confusing and decrease the strength of their importance when they are necessary. Yummy treats are a great reward and an easy way to increase skills, practice tricks and encourage obedience.