As more and more dog owners go on more and more walk due to COVID-19 closures of dog parks and workplaces, it’s vital to know how you can keep your dog safe while walking roadside.
It’s a dog parent’s worst nightmare: your beloved best friend dashes out into the street and there’s a vehicle approaching. Unfortunately, this nightmare comes true for more pup parents than it should. We have even experienced the dangers of cars firsthand with our sweet dog, Blacky. Whether you have a puppy or newly adopted adult dog, training them on how to walk nearby the road can keep them safe from the dangers of traffic.
The Dangerous Dog Behaviors While Walking Roadside
Of course, we know those speeding cars can do major damage to unsuspecting dogs, but what specific behaviors do you want your dog to avoid?
- pulling into the road
- not waiting for your “OK” to go at intersections or while crossing
- jumping out of excitement or startle while nearby passing cars
- pulling or hunting prey while on-leash
- making a run for it if you accidentally drop the leash
What Can You Do To Keep Your Dog Safe?
1. Increase Your Dog’s Visibility
The first step in keeping your dog safe is using the right equipment. Fit your dog with a reflective vest, use a reflective leash and collar (or harness), and carry your cell phone with you on walks.
Start Training Your Dog Roadside Safety ASAP
2. Begin your road safety training with teaching your dog leash etiquette.
When walking your dog on-leash, you want your dog in heel-position, or at least, close enough that he’s not pulling the leash taut.
To encourage this, you can either stop walking when your dog begins to pull, then wait until the leash is slack, then praise them and begin walking again. Or you can use the U-turn method. This is when you do a 180 when your dog pulls to discourage the behavior (if your dog has a high prey-drive we suggest this approach). Both of these take time and patience, but the reward of keeping your dog under control is worth it.
Once your dog has mastered not pulling on-leash, you want to work on the other behaviors that may lead to accidents.
3. Encourage your dog to wait for the “OK” command before crossing the road.
To do this, bring along treats on your walk, and practice in an area where there is little-to-no traffic.
Start by asking your dog to “sit.” This will get him used taking commands while on-leash. Once this is mastered, move onto “sit and stay.” Gradually increase the time your dog stays. After giving your dog the “OK” command, give him the treat and immediately turn walk in the same direction as him.
4. Discourage your dog from running off if you accidentally drop the leash by working on the “come” command for prompt recall.
You can do this in your yard. Simply, let your dog meander away from you, then say “come.” Once, your dog returns, give him a treat and a ton of praise.
After your dog has mastered these commands, begin walking him 10 to 15 feet away from a road that doesn’t get a ton of traffic. This will help him get used to the sound of passing cars and reduce his startle reaction. Playing with your dog to get some energy out before the walk can also help reduce nervous energy, as well.
Of course, you should always be prepared, just in case, which is why we encourage all dog owners to make their beloved pups as visible as possible. The difference between a driver seeing your dog 300 feet away versus 30 could save your dog’s life.
We hope you stay safe as you enjoy a bit of exercise and fresh air while walking your dog. Happy walking, wagging and enjoying outdoor adventures with your best friend.