COVID-19 SAFER AT HOME | DOG WALKING | HARNESSES & LEASHES | SCOOP THE POOP | JACKSONVILLE FLORIDA | JOAN H WALKER PAWTOGRAPHY |
With COVID-19 taking over the daily (hourly!) TV news, Facebook and IG feeds, it’s easy to become depressed and lethargic.
But, if you have a doggo, take advantage of this time together for daily walks. It's mentally and physically stimulating for both human and dog. And with our current Stay-at-Home orders for much of the country, it is a way to get outdoors, if just for a little bit.
WHAT YOU NEED TO START WALKING
If you haven’t walked with your dog in a while, here are some tips to make your outside adventures fun and safe.
An enthusiastic dog. This is usually not a problem. As we say in our dog-filled house: do it once and it is habit.
Microchip. If you have your dog(s) microchipped, make sure your contact information is up to date.
ID Tags. securely fasten ID tags to both your dog's collar and harness with a current cell phone number.
PROPERLY FITTED HARNESS
I walk my Havis with collars and tags for identification; however, I clip my leashes to my dogs’ harnesses. Their harnesses also have ID tags. The reason I double tag my puppers is that if for some reason they broke free, if their collar popped off, I would still (hopefully) have a harness still with a tag. And, of course, they are all microchipped.
My dogs walk very nicely on leash without pulling (unless they spot a squirrel and I have to get their focus again) , so I can use a regular harness without a problem. But I have been working with them for years on being "good on leash." I have some suggestions for harnesses and head halters for pullers (see a little farther down in the blog post) and I will write another blog post on “walking nicely” and “focus” exercises to help you if your dog needs a little remedial work.
AVOIDING THE RUB:
Typical places were a harness will rub is behind the elbow. when fitting your dog for a harness, you'll be asked for a neck measurement and a measurement around the dogs chest (behind arm pits all the way around over the back). Since we are in a Safe at Home order for this area--and many other areas of the country--you won't be able to have a pet boutique (#SupportSmallBusinesses) help you measure your dog. You can often still email or call the shops for additional fitting advice.
For the most part, I look to make sure the harness is snug but not tight. and that there is enough size in the harness that the strap that goes under the chest area behind the elbows does not rug the tender area by the elbow.
WHAT WE USE WITH THE HAVIS:
I use the Joy Ride (formerly known as Pug Life) Harness for cool days. I like that this solidly built harness has a handle that I can literally lift my dog up and out of a situation. The buckles are heavy duty as are the D-rings. In Florida, I don't use this harness once the temperatures are in the upper 70s.
CLICK HERE for more information on the Joy Ride Harnesses.
When the weather heats up, we switch over to a soft mesh harness as pictured. These are lighter weight, cooler and I can wet the harness with cool water prior and during my walks.
Additionally, another choice would be the head halter, with top brands being Gentle Leader and Halti. Since proper fitting and use of these head halters can be confusing, I’m attaching a video by Gentle Leader on how to fit and use the head halter: GENTLE LEADER VIDEO
A WORD ON LEASHES
I like to use a 6-foot leash if a dog is responsive and well trained, a 4-foot leash if we are working on training. What am I currently using? I use the Halti All-In-One leash, which you can find more information here: https://www.companyofanimals.us/product/halti-all-one-lead. It has a little bit of bungee in it so if you are moving out and your dog suddenly stops, it’s not as jarring for the pup.
Also, it comes in a lightweight version for little dogs, as well as a sturdier version for big guys. And, you can wrap it around your waist for hands free jogging. EzyDog also makes similar leash called the ROAD RUNNER™ LEASH. Here is a link to more information on the Road Runner by EzyDog: https://store.ezydog.com/zero-shock/
WHAT NOT TO USE
A retractable leash. Just. Don’t. Do. It.
Why? Many reasons.
Uncontrolled Zinging. If the leash zings out, you cannot reel your dog back in.
Cuts, Burns, Bruises and Breaks. When, not if the line wraps around you or your dog's legs, you have a problem.
No Give. If your dog tries to bolt and the line is locked, there's no give.
End of the line... Breaks. The line or tape can and does break when a dog takes off suddenly.
Awkward. The handle for the retractable leash is heavy, can be hard to hold and is not particularly ergonomic.
Why do so many dog owners not pick up their dog’s poop? Seriously guys. #WeCanDoThis