Walking your dog in Manhattan takes extra attention and care before, during and after the walks. Here is a collection of tips and guidelines I follow when working with my dog clients.
1. Safety – Leashes and Harnesses
Before you leave the door of your dog’s home, make sure harnesses, collars, tags, and a strong leash fastened well. Not too loose or choking the dog at all.
Street Paws uses Twist-Locking Carabiners fastened to backpack straps or belt loops to ensure the dog(s) stay attached to the walker at all times. I have witnessed dog’s pulling away from their walker’s hands and attack other dogs and run into the street blindly. Carabiners are cheap and available online or at sporting goods stores. they are commonly used for mountain climbing.
IF LEASH IS ATTACHED TO COLLAR: Your dog’s neck should have room to breath and move naturally but the collar must be tight enough that if pulled hard suddenly in emergencies, it will not go past the dog’s ears.
IF LEASH ATTACHED TO A HARNESS: Your dog’s harness should be properly fitted at a local store that sells many sizes. It should fit snug but too not too tight where it will affect your dog’s ability to walk or if you see it is rubbing or painful under the arms. I have seen puppies break loose the buckle on cheap harnesses. There definitely ARE cheap harnesses out there that are unsafe and not durable and not fit for NYC dog walking at all. Leashes as well. Some snap at the buckle. Make sure to test your harness’s strength by fastening it and pulling it open hard a few times to see if budges.
2. Before You Head Out – Have Your Dog Sit
Grab treats and bags or what is needed, Leave the door, make your dog sit outside the door as you turn to grab keys and close the door. I like talking to them and getting them happy while waiting for an elevator or door. One treat as a warm up is fitting early upon arrival. Puppies and anxious or sickly dogs can often urinate in the hallway while waiting for an elevator or in the lobby. Distraction is key here. Practice commands and give a treat and pet them to keep them busy. March them outside away from carpets and to the curb as much as possible. Reward them with good words and a treat if they make it to the curb each time. Dog’s love being rewarded for doing things right. *You want your dog to walk by your side without pulling hard, pacing each other in a calm and steady fashion. Dogs I have long term experience walking all hold it until we get outside and away from their building. Peeing on your where you live or on the plants and trees planted by where you live is not cool. We walk at the pace that is steady and slightly challenging to the dog to influence good health and stamina building taking in mind the size, age, and energy level of each dog.
3. Potty Breaks
I try to have dogs relieve themselves on the curb or close to it as much as possible, avoiding the soiling of tree beds, light posts, people’s property, and anything containing electric wires. All droppings must be picked up, bagged up, and disposed of in a city garbage can which is on many corners. Dogs have bad days and messy clean ups should be expected. Plastic bags, paper napkins, newspaper pages, and hand sanitizer come in handy for dog walking. The fine for not picking up after your dog entirely in NYC can be up to a $250 fine. Plus other dogs can eat it causing common NYC intestinal infections such as Giardia through parasites on left behind poop and food. Always scan the ground ahead of you and look for objects and liquids appealing and harmful to your dog. Your dog will tell you quickly what it lunges after and goes for on the street. Street Paws and many walkers I know use the command “Leave It!” to warn our dogs we don’t want them to touch something. In NYC it is a common problem and is the dog’s nature to sniff around and check out smelly nasty stuff so be careful when they put their nose to the ground. When they obey your “leave it” command make them sit and give a treat. Then positive words and continue the walk. The more you practice this the more the dog will learn it is fun to not eat that stuff and the situation occurs commonly.
4. Be Patient
Reward the dog for good behavior. It is good to study dog training tips from the internet. Youtube has a lot of quick easy to digest videos that show dogs being trained for common behavior issues. Street Paws has a lot of experience in this field. We are dog nerds and animal lovers. We want to learn how to communicate with each breed and special case of dog friends we encounter, Positive reinforcement over aggressive punishment always. Think of it as getting a bonus form your boss for extra work done, or a gift for labor you put out. Reward the dog for good behavior and simply stop the bad behavior. Be patient and they will learn what you want from them, Being aggressive and pulling the leash and shouting will just create a harder to solve problem and an unhappy dog.
Important Things to Keep in Mind
FAST DOGS: Pent-up and or anxious to get out dogs enjoy a fast paced action packed walk with sudden stops to sniff, mark, and relive themselves. If you notice your dog has too much energy after your walks, try walking faster and consider wheels. Skateboards, bicycles, roller skates, treadmills, etc.. These dogs benefit greatly from being exhausted and have fun getting exhausted. A tired dog is less likely to chew objects and be hyper indoors after the walk. Two to Four block sprints and steady jogging will help your dog stay healthy, have stamina , and release pent-up energy/ anxiety. Some refuse to play outside and benefit more form indoor play. Fetch, making a dog jump on and off a couch, Some dogs enjoy wrestling and chasing their walkers.;) Street Paws using two nearby locations to safely skateboard and sprint dogs who need it. It is great fun to travel at high speeds with a dog by your side, but safety first. Look out for the dangers as you start to run or skate or bike your dog
SLOW DOGS: Old, slow paced, and sick dogs require extra attention and patience on walks. The walk should be very slow at first and no pulling on the leash hard at all. Figure out their pace and give them enough slack to feel comfortable. Leash corrections should be last resort and minor ones only as aggressive strong pulls on the leash can injure a dog. Reward them for walking fast and confident when they do. Reward them for being brave and paying attention to their walker when needed. Make sure not to pair old or slow dogs with young and fast dogs with different paces. It is harmful to both dogs and can cause behavior problems.
WEATHER CONDITIONS: If you notice your dog having a hard time with rain, snow or heat or freezing cold weather, bring them to a spot where they usually sniff and mark. Be patient as they adapt to the weather challenge. Return as soon as possible if you see shaking, excessive panting, limping, or any sign of unusual weakness. Clean them up, give treats, ice cubes if hot out, make sure their environment is cool and has good air, and console them for being a trooper in bad weather. Dogs regulate their body temperature through panting and sweating via their paws. If you go for very long exercise routines with your dog, early morning or late at night is best in extreme heat.
I hope you find this information useful!