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Dog Walking & Pet Sitting Safety

The Wagging Tails employees recently attended a class where we learned about dog walking safety, defensive leash handling, proper fitting gear, dog behavior, and enrichment. Below we will review a few important points for our clients.


The first and most important subject was gear! Not only did we learn what gear to carry on our person in case of emergencies, but we also learned how important properly fitting harnesses and collars are for the safety of your fur babies. 

A martingale collar is great for dogs. To know if it is fitting properly you should be able to hold the no-pull mechanism up and the two metal loops should touch. This is ideal to walk with for any dog but especially dogs that pull.

Ensuring your harnesses are not too big or small is essential to their safety on our walks. Two fingers should be able to fit between your dog and the harness. Too much room allows the dog to slip out or the walker not to have proper control while on the walk.

A regular collar isn’t ideal for walking; however, if the owner chooses this method it is imperative to make sure the collar is not loose enough for the dog to pull itself out of it. This causes danger for both the dog and the walker.

Getting To Know Your Pet

Knowing and understanding your pet is vital for our safety and theirs. It is even more essential for the owner to have this information so they can relay it accurately to their walkers and pet sitters. You can learn about your pet by considering the following.

Knowing what triggers your pet and exactly what their reactions look like are important for both owners and pet sitters. Whether their ears go up, their tail tucks or their eyes lock on something are all examples of what to pay attention to and note about your pet’s reactions. 

Some dogs are triggered by vehicles and if the walker is not aware of this it could cause an accident for both the dog and the walker. Another instance is if a dog is off leash and your dog is reactive to other dogs. We need to know in advance to handle the situation as safely as possible.

Triggers are capable of building up over a short period. If you have a reactive dog and they hear a dog barking at the beginning of a walk it will be a different reaction from hearing a dog barking at the end of it. The more a dog is exposed to their triggers the more stressed they become and the worse their reactions can get. In cases like this, a short walk is ideal for the pet and would be important for a walker and pet sitter to be aware of. 

Please consider these important details when informing your pet sitter and dog walkers about your pets! Transparency and details help create a seamless and wonderful experience for everyone.


Lick mats, Pupsicles, and Kongs are great examples of enrichment toys for dogs. These can help dogs handle stressful situations better. For example, a dog with separation anxiety could have a lick mat with peanut butter or yogurt prior to the owner leaving. This gives them something to do and associates the owner leaving with something positive. Over time, the dog will begin to handle the owner's leaving better.

We are extremely thankful to Amy from Shared Joy Dog Training for hosting this lesson at the Heritage Humane Society.

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