My dogs get at least four walks a day, thanks to my flexible schedule and telecommuter status. Because Spot, Dolly, and I spend so much time exploring the neighborhood, I am always on the lookout for useful walking accessories.
Here are my current must-haves, five items I never leave for a walk without:
I am not exaggerating when I say this harness has changed our lives. Spot has leash reactivity, which we work on daily with positive reinforcement and plenty of meaty treats.
When I’m on my game, I see other dogs approaching long before he does and have a treat in my hand. Strange dog. Sit. Treat. Good boy!
If I’m distracted — either by looking both ways before crossing the street or by a chatty neighbor — Spot may see another dog first and lunge. The QuickFit EzyDog harness allows me to quickly and safely pull him back to where I can refocus his attention on me.
“Safely” is the key word here. Previous harnesses did not fit his broad Boston Terrier chest and shoulders well, and I feared he would slip out during these tense encounters. This harness has padded, adjustable straps around the chest and the shoulders, allowing for a comfortable, snug fit. I also like how quickly it goes on and comes off, with just the click and unclick of one buckle.
$25 to $28 at EzyDog.com
A treat bag either hinders or helps on a walk. Poorly constructed bags are difficult to open, delaying access to treats when you need them asap. This bag by Canine Equipment has an easily opened drawstring, and it’s not so big that I waste time by having to dig deep.
I also like the included carabineer, which attaches to Spot’s leash and holds my keys, and the extra front pocket for a slobbery ball if our walk includes a trip to the dog park.
$13 at Amazon.com
Dogster resident trainer Annie Phenix regularly stresses the importance of high-value treats when training. I absolutely agree, but I’ve adjusted her method slightly because of the higher price of such treats, which are typically single-source proteins. None of the treats I give Spot and Dolly are cheap, but I find that mixing meaty and veggie is more affordable.
In their treat bag right now are:
Primal Treats Buffalo Liver Snaps — These dry-roasted treats have no preservatives, grains, or antibiotics — or added salt, sugar, or hormones. My pups love them, and my hand searches for liver in the treat bag if I spy one of Spot’s neighborhood nemeses headed our way. (Looking at you, Bubba the Pug)
Zuke’s Supers — Another healthy treat my dogs love, but this time from the fruit and veggie areas of a well-balanced plate. The company’s new line comes in Super Betas, Super Berries, and Super Greens, each one rich with a different mix of nutrients. Dolly especially loves these as their softness doesn’t irritate her gums like crunchier treats do.
I buy all of Spot and Dolly’s treats at our local pet-supply store, which typically has the Primal treats for around $10 for a 4.25-oz. bag and the Zuke’s for around $6 for a 6-oz. bag.
A poop bag is a poop bag, you say? Not so, in my opinion. I stick with the Earth Rated products for three reasons:
$5.49 for the dispenser and 30 bags at Amazon.com
Spot, Dolly, and I live in Houston, Texas, where summer weather ranges from hot and humid to I’M MELTING WHY DO I LIVE HERE WAKE ME IN THE FALL. Spot has a particularly hard time thanks to his smushy Boston Terrier face and jet black coat.
To see if it would provide some relief, we recently tested the new Sun Shield Tee from Gold Paw Series. The lightweight jersey shirt has a UPF-50 rating, which means it blocks 98 percent of the sun’s UV rays. I found that when Spot wore the T-shirt, his fur underneath was no longer hot to the touch after just a quick walk around the block, and he seemed less stressed by the heat overall. It’s definitely going in his beach bag for our upcoming trip to Galveston.
$20 to $36 at goldpawseries.com
Let’s hear from you. What are your must-haves for walks? Share in the comments!
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