October 14, 2020
Tips, tricks, and gear for better walks!
We here at Rover-Time spend A LOT of hours in the field walking dogs. We’ve acquired a lot of tips, tricks, and gear knowledge that can make walks with your dog so much better. Zoe and Brock, the Team Managers for Rover-Time, have over 6 years of dog walking experience between them. It’s National Adopt a Shelter Dog Month so if you’re thinking of getting a new family member, read on to learn more about Brock & Zoe and some tricks of the trade from two people who train dog walkers for a living.
MEET THE TEAM MANAGERS
Hello! My name is Zoe and I’m the Team Manager for the Northeast Region for Rover-Time. I’ve been working with Rover-Time for almost 5 years now. I’ve loved getting to meet all of the many amazing dogs that work with Rover-Time and I’m a sucker for a dog snuggle. I live in Edgewater with my husband and we are hoping to be able to move to an apartment that allows dogs because after spending so much time walking Rover-Time dogs I’m ready for a furry friend of my own! When I’m not walking dogs I’m running my theater company Avalanche Theatre or trying to find a new podcast to listen to while I run. After working with dogs for so many years, I’ve come up with lots of tips that Brock and I hope will be useful for you and your doggo!
Hi there! My name is Brock and I’m the Team Manager for the Southwest Region for Rover-Time. I’ve been with RT for over 2 years now and have loved dogs all my life. I currently live in the Old Irving Park neighborhood with my partner Laurel and our dog, Loki, and cat, Coltrane. When I’m not in the field walking dogs for clients or helping out our wonderful staff, I’m often spending time outside with Loki. He needs a lot of exercise and training (adopted!) but I wouldn’t trade him for anything. Plus, he’s an expert cuddle buddy! The tips, tricks, and gear I reference below is stuff I use every day with Loki (he’s a big boy!) and our clients. I hope some of them will help you too!
TIPS & TRICKS
- Know your route and let ’em sniff! While walking your dog, note where other dogs live, where people like to litter food items, and any other outside factors. It’s easier to avoid a potentially stressful situation if you never go near them in the first place. Plus, once you know where to avoid you can let your dog sniff to their heart’s content without fear of them snagging something yucky or dangerous.
- Put your phone away. Not to shame anyone, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched dogs eat things they shouldn’t, almost get hit by cars, or run face-first into another dog because their owner or walker is on their phone. If you need to do something while you’re out, turn on a podcast, and keep your phone in your pocket. Use the walk to bond and work on training (it’s good for both of you!). Enjoy the one on one time and take a break from the world.
- High-Value Treats. If your dog is easily distracted (like mine), bring along some super tasty snacks that they only get outside. I use cut-up hot dogs or cubed boiled chicken. Loki knows when I go for the treat pouch, he’s going to get something EXTRA yummy, squirrels be damned. It helps with positive reinforcement training for other things too like stopping at corners, leash tension, etc. My goal is always to keep him focused on me so we can both have a safe, enjoyable stroll. If you’re buying store-bought, I like Zuke’s Mini Naturals. They are good and stinky, though they dry out if you don’t keep them sealed.
- Make It Fun! All dogs have a distinct personality and all have different walking styles. Try and adapt to your dog’s individual style. Have a slower dog? Give them time to sniff. Does your dog have excessive energy? Try running down a block or two. Is your dog happy in the sun? Sit down with them and give them some snuggles before continuing on the walk. Adjusting to the dog’s needs will make the walk more enjoyable for both you and the dog.
- Training. Walking with a dog that is pulling/super reactive during your walks can be a challenging experience. I found that taking the time to work with the dog during our time together can be super helpful and well worth the effort! Make sure you always have some treats on you to help focus the dog.
- Keep an eye out. Before working with Rover-Time I never noticed how many owners aren’t paying attention to their dogs and let them walk off-leash. Making sure that you are always paying attention to your surroundings can help prevent an unwanted dog encounter. Also, I’ve learned how to not be afraid to be assertive in telling other dog owners that my dog doesn’t want to say hi.
Brock: I like to use a 6-foot, nylon braided leash with a padded handle. I will tie a knot every 1.5 feet to help with gripping the leash if I need to keep the dog closer. The leash is gentle on my hands, rugged, and I know exactly how far the dog can go before they reach the end of the leash. Smaller dogs don’t need something as heavy-duty and would do well with a lighter leash. I would avoid retractable leashes whenever possible.
Zoe: Call me old-fashioned but a nice simple leash is your best bet in my opinion. I really like this double-handled leash. This gives you the option to use two hands, give the dog more slack, or tighten the leash as needed. I echo what Brock said about avoiding retractable leashes!
Harnesses & Collars
Zoe: For smaller dogs, I like the PetSafe Easy Walk Dog Harness. This is a great harness for smaller dogs that pull, it is easy to use and it has a chest strap so you don’t have to worry about it putting pressure on their smaller, more delicate necks. (Plus you get lots of color options, with a different color for the straps so you don’t get confused about where they should be placed). Make sure that you measure your dog for the perfect sized harness. I’ve seen dogs wiggle right out of their ill-fitting harnesses!
For collars, my best advice is to avoid metal collars that you can’t cut off in an emergency. Check out this Break-Away Safety collar.
Brock: It really depends on the dog for this one – do they pull, what size are they, do they even NEED a harness, etc. My dog Loki, is large. He’s 70+ lbs, has a strong prey drive and it took a while to train him not to pull me off my feet every time he saw a squirrel or rabbit. After trying out a few harnesses, I’ve come to like the Freedom No Pull Harness made by 2 Hounds Design. It’s easy to adjust and works well for my big, strong boy. Plus, its low cost, comes in all sizes, and fun colors! Just be sure to measure your dog’s chest before buying.
If the dog uses a collar, I’d go with a flat collar with a metal buckle that you thread through. Plastic clips can break or not connect correctly and can come off. But it’s always best to find what works best for you and if need be, ask your vet or trainer about what they think!
Treat Pouch / Fanny Pack
Zoe: I honestly never thought I would say this, but I LOVE my fanny pack. It’s the perfect way for me to carry my phone, wallet, keys, and of course, treats! All while staying hands-free. I’m a total fanny pack convert and I’m glad they are making a fashion comeback. I mostly use just a plain fanny pack. But there is this one that is more customized for dog walking. Or if you go running with your dog, there is this one that has a bungee leash attached.
Brock: This is something that I would never go without again. Any time I’m training or walking, I want treats to be at the ready. I really like the PetSafe Treat Pouch Sport. The treat holder is easy to open and close and it has another pocket for holding hand sanitizer, extra poop bags, etc. I toss it on real quick as we head out the door and I’m good to go.
Rain or Snow Booties / Raincoat
Brock: I am a fan of the rubber balloon booties by PAWZ. They are difficult to get on at first but once you have a system down, they work the best in my opinion. They stay on and the dog can actually feel the ground underneath their feet. The boots do require replacements as they wear down but they’re cheap. It might take your dog some time to adjust but it’s insanely cute to watch them learn 🙂
Zoe: I’ll admit that I’ve struggled with getting rubber balloon booties on some dogs I’ve walked. I tend to prefer these fabric booties. Rubber booties do stay on better than the strap-on kind, but personally, I find them easier to get onto a dog’s paw. Also, I’m a total sucker for a dog in a cute raincoat.
We hope you’ve learned some new things to try while you’re out on your walk with your favorite furry buddy! We at Rover-Time can’t wait to see all the fun videos and pictures, we hope you’ll share them with us online on Instagram or Facebook. We’ll never get tired of them 🙂 Happy Walking!