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Chapter 4: Safety And Well-Being When Out And About

When exercising, your safety and well-being and that of your dog are of top priority.

Stretch

After any exercise it’s important to stretch. There’s a right way to stretch that will leave your body feeling fab, and a wrong way to stretch which will give you injuries.

If you’re unsure as to how to stretch safely, have a one-on-one session with a fitness professional, write down everything you’re told, and do it after you exercise with your dog.

No matter what types of stretches you do, there are two rudimentary rules you must always follow:

  • You shouldn’t stretch to the point where you feel sharp pain.

  • You should never bounce when stretching.

Doggie Stretches?

If you’re wondering about stretching your dog, there’s no need, as dogs do plenty of stretching on their own (where do you think Yoga got the Upward Facing Dog and Downward Facing Dog poses from?).

However, if it’s something you want to do, a book that may be of interest is The Healthy Way To Stretch Your Dog - A Physical Therapy Approach by Sasha Foster and Ashley Foster.

Start Slowly In The Morning

Joints can be a bit creaky first thing in the morning, so if
you’re going to run your dog first thing, build a warm-up
session into it. In other words, have your dog walk first and
then trot before breaking into a run. This is even more
important on cooler days when muscles need more
warming up in order to exercise safely.

Phone Calls

Avoid long chats on the phone while out with your dog, for the following reasons:

  • You’re missing out on quality time with your dog.

  • You need to remain alert to keep your little dog in a big city safe from big city dangers.

Headphones

The only time to use headphones while out exercising your dog is during on-lead walks.

Make sure the music or podcast is not so loud that it completely blocks outside noise - remember, you want to be able to hear what’s going on around you.

For visits to the park and any exercise that involves you on wheels, headphones are out.

Daytime

Daylight hours are the safest time to exercise your dog. However, if you go out when it’s dark, wear light clothing and put reflective gear (like a reflective jacket and reflective anklets) on your dog. Or, if your dog wears a harness that has reflective parts on it - eg. the Ruff Wear Web Master Harness that I recommend - there's no need to worry about reflective jackets and anklets.

Kids

Parents should never let their child approach any dog without first consulting the person with the dog about the dog’s attitude towards children. Or at least you’d think so…I’ve been very surprised over the years at how many kids have bolted towards my dogs without a word from their parents.

Sure, someone else’s child isn’t your responsibility, but your dog is, so if the child’s parent is not taking control, you must. When out with your dog, you’ll need to do one of the following if a child approaches:

  • If your dog is not child-friendly, emphatically (but kindly) tell the child not to pat your dog, and then be on your way.

  • If your dog is child-friendly, you can either:

    • Let the child pat the dog (with the parents present, and with your close supervision and instruction), or

    • Be on your way (just because the child wants to pat the dog it doesn’t mean you have to acquiesce - it’s your outing after all, so it's totally up to you).

Shared Pathways Etiquette

A great place to exercise your dog for most of the activities on this website is on a shared pathway.

And, as the name suggests, shared pathways are both for people on foot and those using wheeled equipment. If you exercise your dog using a shared pathway, be aware of protocol, which is that you stay on your side of the path.

Some shared pathways have a line in the centre indicating that they should be treated like a road, and some don't. But, line or no line, the rule stays the same: treat it like a road. So if you live in a country where people drive on the right-hand-side of the road, walk on the right-hand-side of the shared pathway. Vice versa for countries where you drive on the left.

Shared Pathway Safety

Staying on your side of a shared pathway is not just about good manners, it’s about safety too. To begin with, shared pathways are on-lead areas, so your dog must stay on lead.

However, a lead could send someone flying if that person is on wheels, so your dog must not only be on-lead but also on a reasonably short lead, and on the correct side of the path.

Shared Pathway Access

The more well-controlled our dogs are on shared pathways, the more likely dogs will retain their right to use them. And since your dog doesn’t know about shared pathway etiquette, it’s up to you to consistently do the right thing.

>>>On to Chapter 5: Water In, Water Out...Food In, Food Out

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stretching
Here I am having a stretch. Stretching after exercising is so important. If you've never stretched before, it's essential to get advice from a fitness professional on how to stretch properly.

Downward Facing Dog
Here's Jake (an accomplished Dogi - a canine Yogi!) doing a perfect Downward Facing Dog.

Upward Facing Dog
Jake continues his stretching by doing an Upward Facing Dog. As you can see, dogs stretch naturally as part of their everyday life, so you don't need to worry about stretching them after they exercise - they take care of that themselves!

reflective dog anklets
Here are the little munchkins - Jake (left) and Jasmin (right) - wearing their reflective doggie anklets. These anklets are great for added safety on evening walks. They come in packs of four (one for each leg), but I find that they never stay on their front legs, so I put them on the back legs only. If your dog has big front paws then you won't have this problem, but if your dog has tiny paws like my little guys do, pop the anklets on the back legs only.

glowing harnesses
Here's what the Ruff Wear Web Master Harness looks like in low light conditions. You can see that the reflective strips glow in the dark, which means that on evening walks your dog will still be more visible to others.

 

SAY NO TO PUPPY MILLS! SAY NO TO ANIMALS IN PETSHOPS! SAY NO TO BREEDERS!

Adopt a homeless animal instead - they all deserve a second chance

It's estimated that 130,000 dogs and 60,000 cats are killed every year in Australia because there are not enough homes for them all. And the global numbers amount to millions upon millions every single year.

Puppy mills are a major contributor to the terrible problem of overpopulation. Puppy mills are essentially 'dog factories' where dogs are forced to churn out litter after litter, with no thought for the welfare of the dogs and all thought for profit. The dogs live in appallingly dirty, cramped conditions all their lives, and when they no longer serve their purpose they're killed, dumped or sold to vivisection laboratories.

Petshops fit into the picture because puppy mills are generally where petshops get their animals from. Furthermore, having animals in shop windows encourages impulse purchases, and adding an animal to your family should be a conscious, careful decision - NOT one to be made while shoe shopping.

Breeders contribute enormously to the tragic statistics above too. And it doesn't matter whether they're professional breeders or backyard breeders, and whether they breed for profit or not, because while there are homeless animals sitting on death row in shelters, any and all animal breeding is utterly irresponsible.

Now, here's where you come in. You can either be part of the problem or part of the solution. You can either buy animals from puppy mills, petshops or breeders and be part of the problem. Or you can adopt from a shelter or rescue organisation and be part of the solution.

If I haven't convinced you, visit your local shelter to see the homeless animals. Let their innocent faces convince you that adopting is the only responsible choice to make.

All information and photos are copyright © Despina Rosales.
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