PDSA - Tips on how to help dogs and owners enjoy walks
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With spring season in full swing, many of us are thrilled to enjoy lighter, longer days and spend more time outdoors with our precious pets.
However, what we would imagine to be a leisurely stroll around the neighbourhood can quickly turn into a stressful, uncomfortable walk if our furry friend gets over-excited, particularly with so many new sights and smells.
PDSA Vet Nurse Nina Downing said: “It’s important to remember it’s completely natural for our dogs to get excited about going for a walk – being outdoors is so much fun for them!”
She added: “However, it can become quite uncomfortable and tiresome for both of you if they get into the habit of pulling on the lead, and it’s no fun if you’re always struggling to control them.
“Fortunately, there are ways we can help our dogs behave calmly, so you can both enjoy your time out and about.”
Nina said: “If your dog is prone to getting over-excited on walks, teaching your dog a command to be relaxed and settled will help them calm themselves – you will need to practice this at home.
She added: “It may also be worth scheduling in some physically and mentally stimulating games at least 30 minutes before you go out, leaving time for them to calm down again so they’re not wound up just before you head out.
“This will help to burn off some of their energy ahead of their walk, without tiring them out.”
Stop and start training
Nina added: “The best way to stop your dog from pulling is to show them that walking on a loose lead gets a reward, and pulling doesn’t.
“Pack plenty of healthy treats for your walks and as soon as your dog starts pulling, stop walking. They should learn in time that being by your side gets them to the places they want to go and pulling doesn’t.
“Don’t pull them back to you, wait for them to come back to you. Once there’s some slack in the lead again, reward them with a treat and continue walking.
“You may have to do this many times in the beginning, so your walk may take longer than usual, but be sure to give them lots of praise when they respond well to the training.”
Consistency is key
Nina further added: “Habits can’t be broken overnight, so it’s important to be patient during the training process. You’ll need to take these steps for every walk, so try your best to be consistent and don’t give up.
“Never punish your dog for pulling – they will learn more effectively with positive training – and don’t use anything that is painful for your pooch or restricts their movement, such as a choke or shock collar. Instead, use a harness to prevent any injuries to their neck.”(photos: Adobe)
Ask our expert
PDSA Vet Nurse Nina Downing answers all your pet question
Dear PDSA vet, my dog Bobbi gets really anxious about going to the vet, but she’s just developed some red, itchy patches around her eyes and I’m quite worried. What can I do to help? Lindsey
Dear Lindsey, many pets don’t like going to the vet and can get anxious. There are ways to help Bobbi with this in the longer term, but right now, it’s important that she is seen by her vet so she is diagnosed properly and receives the right treatment. There are several possible causes of her condition, such as a skin infection, parasites or an allergy, all of which will need veterinary treatment.
When you book the appointment, let your vet know that Bobbi gets anxious. They may be able to recommend something to help keep her calm, or even offer a house visit. Your veterinary practice will be able to give you advice on behavioural techniques to reduce the stress of future visits.
Dear PDSA Vet, I recently noticed that my cat, Cherry, has lost two of his back teeth, and he also seems to have gone off his food. What could be wrong? Vance
Dear Vance, there are quite a few medical conditions that can cause a cat to lose their appetite but, if Cherry has lost some teeth, he may be suffering from dental disease.
This can make the mouth feel sore, which could explain why he is less interested in eating his food.Any pet that stops eating properly should be taken to a vet so the cause can be investigated.
If dental problems are diagnosed, Cherry may need further treatment to relieve his pain and prevent any more problems from developing.
It’s a good idea to have your cat’s teeth checked regularly by your vet to help spot any problems early on.
Dear PDSA Vet, My dog accidently got her tail caught in the door the other day and the tip of it came off. There was some blood – not much – so I cleaned and dressed it. Should I still get her seen by a vet? Phyliss
Dear Phyliss, tails on both dogs and cats are unfortunately at risk of getting caught, trapped and trodden on, so it’s always wise to stay vigilant and be aware of where our pets are, to keep them safe.
It’s always best to see your vet whenever your pet gets injured, so the vet can ensure any wounds are cleaned thoroughly and that they are dressed, and operated on if needed, hopefully preventing infection.
For pet first-aid advice, visit www.pdsa.org.uk/petfirstaid website.Pay your vet a visit to ensure the wound is healing and that the vet can provide treatment and some pain relief.yorks