How to Walk With Your Dog

Senior woman walking with her dog over a meadow
fotografixx / Getty Images

Dogs are great walking companions, great personal trainers, and great nags. Once you begin walking with your dog, you may soon find your dog is in control of your walking program. Your dog is ready to walk when you are (unlike friends and family), and will let you know when it is time to lace up your sneakers.

Dog Training

Opt for formal classes if they are available and affordable. Start while the dog is a puppy, and continue until the dog can be trusted off leash.

  • Your dog can earn the AKC Canine Good Citizen certificate, which indicates a level of obedience and training attained.
  • If attending classes is not possible, you may want to try training books, such as Carol Lea Benjamin's Mother Knows Best: The Natural Way to Train Your Dog, Surviving Your Dog's Adolescence: A Positive Training Program, or Dog Training in 10 Minutes. You might also find online resources for dog training.

The result of good training is a dog that is a pleasure to walk with—one that will sit, get down, and heel on command, as necessary. You don't want to be towed into the sunset at about 60 MPH! 

Walking Your Dog on a Leash

If your dog is on a leash, it can't get away and cause problems. Some walkers use a harness, and others find retractable leashes to be the best way to give the dog a little more slack, then reel them in as needed.

Are Dogs Allowed Where You Plan to Walk?

Check with the organizers of walking events you plan to attend. If walking in a park or on the beach, call ahead or check the website to see if there are any restrictions.

Note that dogs are sometimes allowed on trails, but not in shuttle buses or visitors' centers.

Clean Up After Your Pet

Bring several disposable plastic bags to clean up after your pet. When a bag is placed over the hand, you can pick up what you have to, turn the bag inside out, and tie the end closed. Dispose of it properly. Zip-closure sandwich bags are another secure option. If you walk regularly, you may want to purchase a poop bag carrier that comes with a roll of bags and attaches to your dog's leash so you're never without a bag.


Carry water for both you and your pet. You can use your hand as a water dish if nothing else is available. Some walkers suggest using collapsible cups, inflatable water dishes, and zip-closure bags, as well.

Taking Time for Rest

Find a shady spot and take ten. Play with the dog, talk to other walkers and cool down a bit. Dogs can't sweat. They keep cool by panting, finding shady spots, walking in water, and drinking lots of water.

If you are walking near water in the summer, find a safe place (not public beaches) and let your dog go swimming.

If you drove to your walking spot, be sure not to leave your dog in a vehicle unattended if it's warm out and you're making stops on your way home. If you walk with your dog, you might also want to bring an old blanket or towels to wipe off wet or muddy paws before your pup gets back into the car.


Every dog should have a couple of forms of identification. Name tags and collars can get lost. Tattoos and embedded microchips will back up the name tag. You should carry a clear photo of the dog or have one stored on your mobile phone, which can aid in recovery if your dog strays. Also, some places require you to carry your dog's rabies certificate with you.

Is Your Dog Ready?

Before taking a dog on a long walk, consider if the dog is healthy enough, has the desire, and is trained enough to walk that distance at your side.

You should get approval from your veterinarian first if your pooch has any medical problem, is overweight, or is a senior dog.

Work up to the longer distances with him by doing the shorter distances first.


Dog walkers often prefer country walks and trails that have sidewalks, or paths that are well off the road.


While you may want to let your dog roam at will on a long leash or even off-leash, this has risks. You won't be able to control your dog if you encounter an aggressive dog. You won't be able to prevent your dog from chasing other animals (skunks!) or approaching people. One of the biggest dangers is that your dog may run out into traffic. Proper dog training and walking on a leash with good control are the best ways of keeping your dog safe.

2 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. ASPCA, Hot weather safety tips.

  2. American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation. Methods for identifying your dog.

By Wendy Bumgardner
Wendy Bumgardner is a freelance writer covering walking and other health and fitness topics and has competed in more than 1,000 walking events.