13 May Important Tips for Walking Your Dog While Social Distancing
The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t going away anytime soon. This means we’ll all be spending more time at a distance of two metres apart from one another – and it also means changing the way we walk our dogs. Luckily, social distancing and dog walking are compatible activities. By taking a thoughtful approach, you’ll find that it’s not at all difficult to enjoy yourself and make the most of your adventures.
Be sure that your dog is ready for outdoor fun
Up-to-date vaccinations, flea control, and heartworm prevention are essential, but there’s more: If you and your dog have been spending most of your time indoors with only short bursts of activity, you’ll want to help your pet get back in shape for longer outings.
Whether you’re looking to hike long distances or pick up the pace by running with your dog, it’s important to take a gradual approach. This is doubly important if your dog has any underlying conditions. If you have any concerns, be sure to talk with your vet about getting your dog in shape.
For now, here are some ideas for having fun and getting your dog ready for those longer jaunts:
- Play vigorous games of fetch in the garden, starting slowly and gradually increasing the number of times you throw the ball for your dog
- Enjoy hide and seek activities that keep your dog up and moving
- Teach your dog a few new tricks
Remember that your dog can experience muscle soreness at first, just like we humans do when we first pick up the pace after a long period of inactivity. If you notice that your dog seems sore or tired, you might be doing too much too fast. But ultimately, getting some fresh air and ponding with your pet is good for your and your pet’s mental health.
Keep cool and stay safe
As always, you’ll want to prevent your dog from overheating and avoid scorching hot sidewalks. Try to enjoy your walks in the morning or evening, rather than going out into the midday heat. Remember to carry water for yourself and your dog.
If you’re walking at dawn, dusk, or after dark, remember to be aware of your surroundings and ensure that you and your dog are visible to motorists. You can boost visibility by wearing clothing with reflective features, and you can help your dog stay safe with a light up LED pet collar.
Greet others from a distance
Depending on your location and the season there are certain times of day when more people are likely to be outside enjoying a bit of fresh air. If at all possible, try to avoid walking your dog during peak hours. Social distancing is easier with fewer people on the sidewalk.
Keep the following tips for social distancing in mind whenever you walk your dog:
- For now, don’t allow your dog to socialise with other dogs. COVID-19 is caused by a tricky virus that can mutate. While it isn’t likely that this form of coronavirus can be spread by dogs, it’s best to take a cautious approach. Have your dog stay about two metres from dogs you encounter while walking.
- Don’t allow your dog to get close to other people, and don’t pat other dogs you encounter during your walk.
- When you see another person approaching, cross the street if it’s practical and safe to do so. Give a friendly hello and a wave of acknowledgement! If you can’t cross the street, consider whether you can move off to one side so that they can pass. It’s likely that others might extend this courtesy to you as well.
- Avoid busy areas where people tend to congregate. Just like timing your dog walking adventures to fall outside the busiest times, this is a simple way to ensure that you’re able to keep your distance from other people.
Don’t go for a walk if you feel sick
If you’re not feeling well, follow government guidelines. Let your dog have outdoor time in the garden if possible, or get help from others for walking your dog. Remember to take precautions, sanitise surfaces, and wash your hands before and after contacting anyone. When someone else is walking your dog during social distancing, you might consider having them keep a separate leash with them as one more way to minimise contact.
Keep up to date with regulations
Australia’s efforts at flattening the curve have paid off so far; according to the government, the number of new COVID-19 cases remains low. While there are plans to ease certain restrictions across each jurisdiction, it’s important to keep yourself updated with regard to which activities are allowed.
It’s likely that social distancing will remain a part of our lives for months to come. The government’s COVID-19 community advice page is an excellent source of up-to-date information that can help clear up any confusion. Being well-informed is an important first step in keeping yourself, your pet, and your community safe whilst avoiding fines.