Tips For A Tail-Wagging Walk 

Seniors in the Texas Hill Country can get the most out of walking their dog by following a few simple suggestions. After all, a stroll around the neighborhood is beneficial for us humans and our four-legged companions! Our Seniors Helping Seniors® caregivers know the advantages of walking as we age – even a quick jaunt presents social, emotional, and mental benefits. But, did you know, it’s just as mentally important for pups? Going on daily outings allows our canine counterparts to explore the world outside their backyard. They get to interact with other dogs, encounter wildlife, and watch other owners with their fur babies. It can also help build a stronger bond between owner and pup. Of course, walking keeps our four-legged family members in good physical shape as well! Whether a seasoned dog owner or new to the club, these Seniors Helping Seniors® tips will ensure walks are safe and enjoyable for everyone involved!

Safety First 
Before heading on a walk, it’s important to take a few precautions. After all, our furry friends are counting on us to keep them fit and healthy! 

Get loose 
A good rule of thumb before doing anything physical is to warm up a bit. Simple stretches for the body parts worked most during a stroll -- like calves, Achilles’ tendons, and hamstrings - will make sure the legs are ready to move. Seniors Helping Seniors® companions are happy to help you or a senior loved one prepare, so don’t hesitate to bring them into the mix!  It’s a good idea to let our four-legged friends get loose before taking off as well. Play fetch or let them run around the yard prior to walking. A tired pup will likely be better behaved throughout the outing.

Choose appropriate clothing 
A good pair of shoes is essential for dog walks. Proper footwear can help prevent slips and falls. Additionally, dress for the weather. Outfits should be warm enough for those cool, early morning walks and breathable when it heats up outside.  If balance is an issue, bring a walking stick or cane to help keep steady.

Be wise about time of day 
Spring weather in Central Texas can be unpredictable. Go for a walk when it’s most comfortable (for you and your pal), avoiding the coldest and hottest parts of the day. Please be especially aware of hot pavement for our walking partner's little paws.

Pick a senior- and pup-friendly route 
When deciding on a path, there are a few things to take into consideration. First, choose a route that offers a level walking surface. Avoid unkempt areas that might have tree roots and unexpected dips.  In urban areas, make sure the course provides a sidewalk or walking path and steer clear of heavy traffic – these are both important in keeping owner and pup safe! Additionally, consider you or your loved one’s limitations, as well as those of the dog. Small breeds and senior dogs may not have the endurance for lengthy walks.

Bring a friend 
Our Seniors Helping Seniors® caregivers love spending time with senior companions and their furry friends! Make sure to invite you or your family member’s caregiver to join in on the fun. After all, not only can they help ensure everyone remains safe, walks are always better when they include conversation with a pal!

Be The Master 
A misbehaving dog can be a danger to its owner and itself. Unexpected lunging and pulling increases the chance of a fall and serious injury, especially with large breeds. With a little work and patience, however, our canine counterparts make excellent exercise buddies!

Act Like The Top Dog 
To start, the following basic commands can help control pups during a walk:
- “Heel” directs the dog to walk with its head even with its owner’s legs, discouraging pulling.
- “Wait” instructs the pup to sit and stay until given a release command. This can be especially helpful in preventing four-legged friends from accidentally tripping you or your senior loved one on the stairs or running out into traffic.

Be confident and use a stern tone of voice when giving commands. Additionally, bringing along a bag of bite-sized training treats as a reward for good behavior can encourage canines to be more obedient.

Bring In The Professionals 
For those having a great deal of trouble with obedience, professional training courses might be the answer. A dog trainer can give pointers, work with the dog, and help you or the senior in your life regain power.

Last but certainly not least…have some FUN!! Walks with our pups are a great way to explore the neighborhood, a new park in town, or an area nature preserve. Keep the safety measures we’ve outlined in mind, and discovering new areas together will be a ball!

Seniors Helping Seniors® in-home care services understands the companionship of a dog can be just as important and beneficial as the relationships held with friends and loved ones. As always, we’re here to support our active senior community in all aspects of life, so grab your caregiver, your four-legged pal, and let’s roll!