If you have a new puppy or dog in the family, sometimes the first public outing can be intimidating for both you and your new dog. Check out our guest blogger Dr Katrina Warren's tips for getting the most out of your time on a walk and at the dog park together. 

This year has seen a huge change in the way most of us live and I think pet owners now appreciate the companionship of their pets more than ever before.

 I have noticed a big increase in dog numbers and there are some fairly obvious reasons for this.

  • People are home a lot more and have more time to walk their dog, particularly throughout the day.
  • Different members of the family are now walking the dog at various times of the day, meaning more than one or two walks a day.
  • A lot of new dogs and puppies were acquired during lock down periods – this also means there are a lot of first time dog owners about.

In Australia, you are required to have your dog on a lead in public places but I have observed that there are a lot more dogs in public places off lead at the moment– this can be frustrating and at times dangerous. 

Some people and children are frightened of dogs, even the friendly ones and become extremely scared if a dog approaches them off lead.

A person may be walking a reactive dog on a leash and your dog running up to them can be extremely stressful for the other person who is trying to walk their dog safely.

 I don’t recommend using retractable leads in public places as they allow your dog freedom to approach people and other dogs and can also wrap around legs, trees and other dog leads! If you are using one, please lock it at a short length when in a public space.

 There are definitely more dogs running around at dog parks. Dogs’ may be receiving more walks than ever before but doesn’t mean they are social at dog parks. The more dogs you have running together in an area, the more you increase the chance of an incident or a  dog fight. Off leash dog parks can be very dangerous especially when busy, so choose your timing wisely and try to socialise with dogs that you know.

 There is has been a big increase in puppy ownership and I advise puppy owners to avoid off leash dog parks for the safety of the puppy. You can still socialise your puppy but please do so with dogs and other puppies that you know and trust. One bad experience can set your puppy up to be fearful of other dogs for life.

It is also unfair on a puppy to let them off their leash in an unfenced area as you can’t expect them to have a good recall yet and that can result in them running the other direction or chasing something like a bird, bike or car.

 Extra dogs mean extra dog poo! It is law to pick up and dispose of your dog’s waste so that means always picking it up! Make sure you have poo bags on you every time you leave the house – the DOOG Walkie bags, belts and treat pouches all have an inbuilt pocket pouch to store poo bags so you never get caught out!

 Walking your dog should be relaxing and fun but you are responsible for your own dog’s actions – please be sensible and considerate to ensure your walk is safe and happy for everyone.