We’ve all been there – walking our dog may occasionally feel like a nuisance or interruption to our busy day. As much as we love our pets and enjoy our time with them, we may find ourselves using this part of their routine as an opportunity to multitask. We talk on the phone, schedule work meetings, perhaps listen to a podcast, or even use the walk as a part of our exercise routine. While these activities seem harmless, distracted walking can harm your pet.

Dogs Can Eat Something Harmful

Even if a walk seems routine to you, it’s unlikely that you have the power to single-handedly dog-proof the outdoors. Dogs have famously poor judgment about which foods they can eat and, at times, what qualifies as “real” food. Just because an item is small and a dog can eat it quickly doesn’t mean it will be harmless. Even something that may seem harmless could cause your dog serious harm and necessitate visiting the emergency vet if they scarf it down while you’re checking your fantasy team. If you aren’t paying attention, your pet can easily get into something harmful, and you may not even know it happened until it is too late.

The Terrain Can Have Unexpected Hazards

Forbidden food and foreign objects aren’t the only hazards your dog might encounter along your walk. In the summer, the pavement may become hot enough to hurt your dog’s paws, so it is especially important to be vigilant of the terrain as you walk. On the other hand, in the winter, you might come across road salts or other materials that could irritate dogs’ paws or make them sick. We have various paw-some products like prebiotic balm, paw gel, and wipes that can help keep your dog’s paws safe regardless of terrain.

Person on phone while walking Dog.

Another reason you should look up from your phone is the critters you may encounter along your trail, like snakes you do not want to haphazardly step on. And even though your pet is leashed, cars or bikes traveling by can still pose a threat if you allow your pet to wander aimlessly at the end of the leash. Just because we are holding onto the other end of the leash does not mean your pet is invincible to these dangers.

It Can Be Harmful for Your Pet’s Mental Health

Other dogs and humans also present potential issues. If your dog is reactive, they could experience stress or even get into a fight if they unexpectedly get too close to another pup and you aren’t prepared. And some overenthusiastic people have been known to approach dogs in disagreeable ways.

Dangers of not paying attention while walking your dog

Even if your dog is not known to typically be reactive or fearful, distracted walking can still open the door for unwanted behaviors. While buried in the phone, you may miss the initial body language signs that indicate your dog is anxious about something. These situations present training opportunities to reinforce confidence and good behaviors but could otherwise turn into your pet learning unwanted behaviors or fearful reactions if not properly addressed along your walks.

The Benefits of Paying Attention: Better Citizenship, Better Understanding, and Better for You

So, at this point, it seems obvious that paying attention during your walk is important to keep your pet safe. But don’t think of this as a sacrifice – it provides additional benefits too! Take this time of day as an opportunity to unplug and unwind, being mindful of the moment. This can provide you with a more refreshed and relaxed mental state, just like the walk provides for your pet.

Well behaved dog walking with owner

Avoiding distractions during this time also provides an opportunity for you to understand your pet even better and them to understand you. Practice commands such as “sit,” “leave it,” and “drop it” as opportunities present themselves. And use the time to learn more about your pet’s body language, likes, and dislikes. This bonding time can bring you closer and reinforce your mutual partnership and bond.

And finally, this time of day allows you to practice good citizenship. Whether cleaning up after your pet or not allowing your dog to approach a human or animal who doesn’t want their attention, staying plugged into your surroundings will give you and your dog the best experience and provide that for everyone around you, too.

Shop Now

You can shop all your dog walking essentials and more at FarmVet.com 24/7. Or call one of our friendly Sales Associates at 1-888-837-3626 from Monday-Friday 8 am-5 pm CST. You can also email your order to info@farmvet.com.

Learn More

Keeping your pet safe doesn’t stop at paying attention during walks. Check out these 5 Tips for a Safe Summer with Your Pet.

The Farmer’s Dog contributed to parts of this blog to help spread awareness of dangers during walks with your pet.