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Walking the Dog

Mindy Norton

Some places where you might choose to walk your dog may have stations that offer plastic bags that make it more convenient to clean up after your dog.  Still, it's a good idea to keep at least one plastic bag with you in case you walk in an area where the bags are not available.  It is just one more way you can be a good neighbor and a responsible pet owner!


A friend of mine is trying to lose a little weight by cutting back on calories and increasing her activity. So she is taking her dog out for longer and more frequent walks. She benefits from getting more exercise and so does her furry little companion.

When walking a dog, the first thing you need is the right equipment, starting with a good leash that is sturdy enough to control your pet but not too heavy if it’s a smaller dog; also, a collar or harness that fits well enough that the animal can’t squirm out of it, but not so tight as to cause discomfort.

Although your pet is on a leash, it needs some identification. An ID tag is a good idea; but, tags and collars sometimes come off, so having your pet microchipped provides additional identification in the unlikely event the two of you become separated.

Be a good neighbor - clean upafter your friend. You can invest in a fancy pooper scooper, or just carry a plastic bag. Almost any small bag will do – like those with a zip-type closure, or plastic grocery bags, even the bag your newspaper was delivered in. Just slide the bag over your hand, scoop, and turn the bag inside out as you pull it off your hand. Zip it or tie it closed and dispose of it when you get home.

As you walk, pay attention to your surroundings. If you encounter people or animals, or have to walk close to traffic, shorten the leash to keep your pet close by your side where you can maintain control and protect your furry buddy.

Walking is good exercise for humans and pets, but like any activity, start small. Take short walks at first, and gradually lengthen them as both of you build stamina and endurance.

My friend is finding that walking her dog has another benefit - spending time together in a shared activity is strengthening the bond between them.

October is Adopt a Dog Month, so visit your local shelter if you would like to have your own four-footed friend.  Companionship – that’s what it’s all about, when you’re speaking of pets.


Mindy Norton has been “Speaking of Pets” on Alabama Public Radio since 1995.
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