Did you know we run group dog walks across the UK, every month with our partners Burns Pet Nutrition? The Lead The Way group walks are perfect for meeting like-minded dog owners, exploring new walks in the local area while introducing your pooch to some new fur friends.
That being said, group dog walks aren’t suitable for all of our canine friends. It requires preparation, focus and training to ensure that your dog has a good time, and doesn’t feel overwhelmed by the number of dogs on the walk.
Here’s a couple of things you need to think about before em-bark-ing on a group dog walk.
Your Dogs Temperament
Nobody knows your dog better than you. Are they going to be happy in a group of other dogs? Some dogs get anxious, boisterous, over-excited and nervous in these situations, so it’s always good to know how your dog interacts with others.
We recommend asking yourself these questions:
- Do they enjoy being around other dogs? Do they enjoy being around other humans? Do they enjoy being around children?
- Do they respond well to recall? If you saw a squirrel on the walk, would they come back?
- Are they fit and healthy enough to go on a group walk? Remember, while it’s great to socialise your puppy at a young age, they shouldn’t be over-exercised. Elderly dogs on the other hand may struggle to keep up with the rest of the group. If your dog is sick with a contagious illness like kennel cough, you won’t want to risk spreading the illness to dogs.
- Are they up to date with vaccinations, or flea and worming treatment?
- Is their microchip up-to-date with the correct address and details?
Answered yes to all of these questions? Then you’re good to go! If there’s some you’re not quite sure about, then you will need to do a bit of work before hand. Whether that’s confirming details with the group leader, like the length of the walk, whether dogs are allowed off-lead during the walk, or if they are to be kept on-lead etc.
What should I take with me on a group walk?
So you’ve ticked all the boxes above, you’ve sniffed out a tail-wagging group dog walk and the day has arrived! There’s a couple of things you need to prepare for during your group walk to make sure it’s a happy one:
- Travel water bottle, or bottle of water and collapsable bowl
- Lead and collar with up to date ID tag
- Poo bags
Depending on the weather or time of the walk, you may also require a torch, waterproofs, towels and LED collar. It’s always best to take a rucksack so you have all of these things to hand.
It may be best to avoid bringing a toy, particularly tennis balls. This is because many dogs react differently when an item they love is thrown into the mix with other excitable dogs. If your dog already established a positive relationship with the group, then it may be okay to bring. However, the whole purpose of the group dog walk is for your dog to enjoy positive experiences with other dogs.
Thinking about the different seasons
Every season brings something to think about when it comes to a group or solo dog walk. Remember to bare these in mind:
Autumn days when the grass is jewelled! This time of the year will provide some of the prettiest walks in shades of orange, red and brown. However, trees can spit out plenty of conkers which can cause a serious health risk to your pet if ingested.
Winter is the ‘most wonderful time of the year’. However, snow and ice can both cause confusion. Take extra care and keep your dog on a lead when in unfamiliar territory. There may be a pond lurking beneath the blanket of snow.
Pretty springtime walks, where the flowers bloom and the countryside is bursting with new baby animals. Many flowers are poisonous to dogs, such as daffodils, so keep a close eye during your walk. During this time of the year, you may find more sheep, cows and other cattle on a countryside walk. If you spot animals, remember to keep the countryside code in mind and keep your dog control on a lead at all times.
If there’s one thing on the top of our list during the summer months, it’s keeping our dogs cool. Dogs can very quickly become overheated and dehydrated when out walking which can cause heat stroke. Don’t force yourself to go on a group dog walk if it takes place at the hottest part of the day. Our Lead The Way group walks are cancelled when they hit a certain temperature, but others may not be. Stick to solo walks during the evenings or early mornings to keep your dog safe.
Do they enjoy taking a dip in the water to cool down? Be sure to check that it’s clear of blue-green algae before letting your dog take a dip!
Finding or Starting a Group Dog Walk
By finding a regular group dog walk you’ll build friendships and a supportive community for both you and your dog. So how do you find group dog walks?
Join Our Lead The Way Group Walks
We run local dog walking groups in various places across the UK called Lead The Way.
Each walk is supported by Burns Pet Nutrition and led by one of our Explorers. Our group walks are limited to 30 humans, to ensure each walk is safe and well monitored throughout. We also have rules and procedures in place to make sure that everyone attending feels comfortable. What’s more? All participants get a free goody bag for working those fluffy legs off.
Click here to find a group dog walk near you, or lead your own walk by becoming one of our Explorers!
Other Ways To Find Group Dog Walks?
Join an Established Group: There’s a great platform called Meetup which brings dog owners together to host group walks. There may already be some organised in your local area.
Take part in big events: If you’re up for a bigger walk with more tail-wagging fun, then there’s some great events out there to cater for that. Like the Big Dog Walk for instance! Be sure to ask yourself the same questions above before booking to ensure your dog is happy being around a large number of dogs, humans and potentially children.
Do You Enjoy Group Walks?
Have you attended group walks with your dogs? Perhaps your run a group yourself? Let us know in the comments below.