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Humans Should Remember That a Dog Walk Is for the Dog

Walks are the highlight of every dog’s day. Dogs need to explore, sniff, socialize, exercise, and breathe in the fresh air. Guardians must remember that although they are also benefiting from the outing, walks are for their dog. That means no rushing it, no tugging, no choke or prong collars, and making the walk as long and interesting as possible. When dogs stop, they have a good reason for doing so.

Big or small, dog harnesses are the way to go. Collars that pinch or choke can cause serious harm, and even nylon collars are risky. According to a study recently published in Veterinary Record, the force from a light tug on a dog’s neck is double the amount of pressure applied by a tourniquet. If the leash is jerked (which should never be done) or the dog lunges, the force can be upward of six times greater, resulting in choking, breathing problems and even neck damage.  

The “sniff factor” is an integral part of a dog’s psyche and a fire hydrant is their social media. Imagine if someone yanked you out of your chair whenever you tried to read a text. Dogs can recognize who just walked by a particular spot with one sniff of their keen nose. It’s cruel to deprive them of this fundamental means of communication.

In warmer months, keep in mind that when the ambient temperature is 86, the temperature on asphalt can be as high as 135 degrees. Even just a few minutes on hot pavement can cause dogs’ sensitive paws to burn. Excessive heat also increases their risk of deadly heatstroke. In hot weather, walk very early or very late, carry water, and take frequent breaks in shady spots.

For something that means so much to your dog, please let them set the pace, choose which way to go, and linger over interesting scents. Walks are vital to dogs’ health and happiness.

Ingrid Newkirk, is president of PETA and author of animalkind: Remarkable Discoveries about Animals and Revolutionary New Ways to Show Them Compassion

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