5 Tips for Better Dog Walks

/ by Jasper Molloy

A woman walking a black Labrador Retriever dog in a forest

Going for a dog walk should be a fun activity, or so you thought. Instead of feeling refreshed from a pleasant stroll, you might find yourself feeling stressed, exhausted and hopeless. It might feel like training is an insurmountable task and you’ll never be able to enjoy your walks.

In this blog post, we give our five top tips for better dog walks.

These tips should give you a start with some ideas you can implement now to make walks better for both you and your dog.


Having the right walking equipment can make a big difference in your outings with your dog. It is important to use dog-friendly equipment and to ensure you introduce any new equipment gradually and positively.

Collars and Harnesses

You should opt for a comfortable, well-fitting collar or harness. It is generally advised to use a harness instead of a collar to protect your dog’s neck. For dogs that pull, there are harnesses with front attachments to help direct them back to you and give you better control.

Painful collars that tighten to the point of choking or involve metal prongs facing into your dog’s neck should be avoided at all times, such as choke chains, prong collars, garrote/‘grot’ collars, and other corrective devices.


When walking your dog, there are different leads that may be appropriate for different situations. I am a big fan of double-ended adjustable training leads that allow you to change the length of the lead depending on what your needs are, or you can use it as a double-attachment with two clips on the front and back clips of a harness or a harness and a flat collar.

If you want to give your dog additional freedom without losing complete control, a long line is a good option. It is important to know how to handle a long line safely if you do decide to use one. These come in lengths such as 5 metres, 10 metres, and 15 metres.

Other Equipment

In some circumstances, tools such as muzzles and head collars may be necessary in order to ensure safety. However, this equipment should be introduced through choice-based training to ensure the dog is happy and comfortable with it. It is a good idea to recruit a trainer to help with the process, especially if you have a sensitive dog.

Other tools that can make dog walks better for you both include treat bags, training vests to carry food, toys, and equipment, handy dispensers to carry poo bags, and so on.


Having something your dog loves with you on your walks that you can use to reward them for good behaviour helps to build better habits. Remember that training is happening all the time, and your dog is constantly learning.

Your walks will be much more enjoyable if you can find something to motivate your dog with and use this to reward things like check-ins and walking politely on the lead. If you do this every time you go out, you will get a lot more of these behaviours from your dog.

Food is the most common go-to, and since our dogs need a daily amount of food every day anyway, it makes sense to use it to reward them for doing things that we like. Food is also easy to carry with us (you can buy training pouches to store them in), convenient, and tends to be a powerful motivator for most dogs. If your dog isn’t interested in the food reward you are using, keep trying different types of bait until you find something they do like!

However, food isn’t the only option that’s out there. A training toy carried in a bag or pocket can make for an excellent reward, especially for active and high-drive dogs who might prefer to play with a toy than take a treat.

Remember that the dog chooses what is rewarding to them. Just because you think your dog ‘should’ be interested in a certain type of reward does not necessarily mean they will be. Use rewards that your dog likes and is happy to work for. For instance, you might assume that chicken is the top-tier reward for your dog when they’d actually prefer some sliced carrots!


Sometimes, we end up rushing our dogs when we are on a walk with them. This can be due to time constraints or the weather, but for any reason, having a lack of patience can make walks a lot more stressful. Making the effort to not be impatient and to allow your dog to do the activities they enjoy on their walk will make the process more enjoyable for both of you.

Set aside enough time for your walk so that you can relax and let your dog enjoy and engage in natural behaviours like sniffing, playing, and exploring. It is important to remember that the purpose of the walk is for your dog’s physical and mental stimulation, not an exercise in control. Training can be incorporated into your walks, but this should be done in a fun way and balanced out with opportunities for your dog to just be a dog.

Consider that both you and your dog will have good days and bad days. It is important to be patient not only with your dog, but with yourself! Be kind to yourself and your dog, and give yourself the same allowances.

If you are patient with your dog and allow them to sniff, explore, and engage with their environment, you are making sure that their needs are being met. If you are working on training, you can use the opportunity to sniff and explore as a reward for checking in by releasing your dog afterward.


There can be some constraints as to when and where you have the opportunity to walk your dog, but these factors can make a big difference to both your and your dog’s enjoyment of the outing. What is one of the biggest things you can do to help set yourself up for success on your walk? Planning!

One important thing you can plan for is where you walk your dog. Location matters and is an important factor when it comes to outings with your dog. If you can drive, that makes it easier and gives you more choice about where you take your dog, but if you don’t drive, there are still options you can consider in regards to altering your walking location.

This could be changing up the route of your local walk slightly to make the environment easier for your dog to cope with, travelling somewhere else occasionally, or seeing what other options are available around you.

If you have an excitable, reactive or nervous dog or if you just want to work on training, large open spaces can be useful. These locations enable you to identify distractions at a distance and move away if needed.

It is advised that you set your dog up for success, so if your dog struggles to cope with having a large number of loose dogs around them, it is recommended that you avoid areas you are likely to encounter this. If certain locations are popular spaces to let your dog off lead, it is sensible to avoid these if you are working on training and your dog cannot currently cope with those environments.

The time that you walk your dog can help set you up for success too. If you walk at ‘unsociable’ times, such as very early in the morning or late in the evening, you are less likely to encounter dog walkers or other potential distractions. Planning to walk your dog at less busy times of the day can help make your walks more enjoyable for both of you.


Sometimes, the expectations that we have of our dogs can start to be unreasonable and unrealistic. It is important to remember that your dog is an animal and a living, breathing being.

There are certain behaviours that are natural to them as a species that your dog may engage in, such as sniffing, chasing, barking, and so on. This is especially true when you have a breed that is engineered to find certain activities very self-rewarding, such as scenthounds, who are likely to enjoy sniffing and following trails.

If the expectations of your dog are unfair, you are more likely to become stressed when you are on a walk. Instead of trying to hold your dog to a high standard while you are out, focus on enjoying the time with them and think about all their strengths and positive qualities.

When you are out on your walks, try to stop yourself from comparing your dog to other dogs that you see. Your dog is their own individual with a unique personality, and your walks are a time for them.

Ensure that your expectations are fair based on the current environment, your dog’s learning history, and various other factors that come into play in terms of behaviour. Enjoy the time together with your dog – find a way to incorporate activities they enjoy.


These are just a few pointers that can help make your walks better for both you and your canine companion. Try to implement what you can or think about ways that you can make your walks more enriching and set your dog up for success based on their individual personality and favourite activities.

However, if you are really struggling, the best thing to do is to hire a qualified, ethical trainer. Go to the following link for a guide on How to Choose a Dog Trainer by Zazie Todd of Companion Animal Psychology.