Fall 2023

Walk into fall

Take the first step toward a walking routine with your dog

Autumn is the perfect time to start a habit that’s healthy both for you and your dog – walking. Summer’s hottest days are behind you, and the coldest weather is still ahead. Read on for how to get your dog moving safely and enjoy the cooler days of fall.

Know your dog before you start

How is your dog’s health and fitness? Is your dog overweight? Do they have physical limitations such as sore joints or trouble breathing? Is your dog aggressive towards other pets or to people? These may limit your options, but none of them prevent you and your dog from establishing a daily walking routine.

Your dog’s veterinary healthcare team can advise you on health matters and a trainer can help with leash manners. Aggressive or reactive dogs are a special challenge, but acclimating your pet to wearing a comfortable box muzzle while in public will help to prevent harm while you work with a behaviorist.

No health, training or behavioral challenges? You’re ready to gear up and get going.

Go with good gear and good manners

Small dogs generally do best on harnesses, to relieve pressure on their throats that can lead to a collapsed trachea. Larger dogs can wear harnesses, too, but get one that prevents pulling; a large dog in a regular harness can pull you off your feet or pull the leash out of your hand and run away. Consider a properly fitted martingale collar or a head halter, both of which provide you with more control.

Get a 6-foot non-retractable leash that feels comfortable in your hands. Reel-type, retractable leashes are nice for giving your dog some room to sniff around, but they’re not advisable for walking your dog. They teach your pet that it’s OK to pull, and they can be pulled out of your hand easily, leaving the handle unit bouncing along behind your dog. A loose dog can panic and run into traffic, or you or bystanders can be seriously injured trying to grab the cord as it flies by.

If your dog is difficult to walk, ask your veterinary healthcare team for a referral to a trainer who can help your dog to walk on a loose leash beside you. A couple of private lessons or a group class can make a real difference!

Watch the weather

While autumn temperatures are usually nicer than in July, fall days can still be too warm for walking. That’s especially true if your dog is easily overheated, as is often the case with short-muzzled breeds such as the French bulldog, English bulldog, or pug. Overweight dogs are also easily stressed in heat. Planning your walks for early mornings or evenings will help. (For walking in low-light conditions, stay safe by using reflective gear for both you and your dog.)

When the weather turns colder, dogs with lean bodies and thin haircoats such as greyhounds or whippets may need warm coats, as many older dogs struggle to stay warm. For icy streets, boots may help as well. Start getting your pet used to wearing these so you’re ready when colder days come. For any dog, a rain jacket is not a bad idea—you’ll have a dryer, cleaner-smelling dog when you get back home.

Finally, grab your phone and pet waste bags before heading out the door. Don’t forget the water if you’re going for a longer walk. Some water bottles come with attached bowls, or you can try a collapsible water bowl that stashes away easily.

Start slowly and build on your success

As you start, you have two fitness levels to assess: Yours and your dog’s. You have a pretty good idea of yours, but your dog’s may be a little more difficult to figure out. Start with short distances and a walking speed that’s comfortable for you both. You’ll be able to build on both as the days and weeks go by. Watch your dog for signs of overheating, such as rapid panting or excessive drooling, and take a break in the shade, offering water, until your dog is ready to head home. Call for a ride if you need it!

If you keep a log, you’ll be able to measure and enjoy your progress until you’re both happily walking at your best distance and speed.

Keep your new habit going!

As you build up your time and distance, don’t forget to have some fun along the way. Enjoy your surroundings, and let your dog enjoy them, too. Don’t be in such a hurry that you don’t allow your dog to indulge in sniffing. You can also practice games or tricks along the way to break up a long walk and keep your dog’s attention. Walking is just plain good for you both, and you’ll be happy you chose the nice days of autumn to start on your journey to better health—together.

Add-a-pet

Take advantage of your multi-pet discount when you add a pet to your policy. When covering two or three pets, you can receive a 5% discount. When covering four or more pets, you'll save 10% on your base premium. Visit the member portal to add a pet. 

Enroll a new pet
Add-a-pet

Take advantage of your multi-pet discount when you add a pet to your policy. When covering two or three pets, you can receive a 5% discount. When covering four or more pets, you'll save 10% on your base premium. Visit the member portal to add a pet. 

Enroll a new pet
Add-a-pet

Take advantage of your multi-pet discount when you add a pet to your policy. When covering two or three pets, you can receive a 5% discount. When covering four or more pets, you'll save 10% on your base premium. Visit the member portal to add a pet. 

Enroll a new pet
Add-a-pet

Take advantage of your multi-pet discount when you add a pet to your policy. When covering two or three pets, you can receive a 5% discount. When covering four or more pets, you'll save 10% on your base premium. Visit the member portal to add a pet. 

Enroll a new pet
Add-a-pet

Take advantage of your multi-pet discount when you add a pet to your policy. When covering two or three pets, you can receive a 5% discount. When covering four or more pets, you'll save 10% on your base premium. Visit the member portal to add a pet. 

Enroll a new pet
Add-a-pet

Take advantage of your multi-pet discount when you add a pet to your policy. When covering two or three pets, you can receive a 5% discount. When covering four or more pets, you'll save 10% on your base premium. Visit the member portal to add a pet. 

Enroll a new pet
Add-a-pet

Take advantage of your multi-pet discount when you add a pet to your policy. When covering two or three pets, you can receive a 5% discount. When covering four or more pets, you'll save 10% on your base premium. Visit the member portal to add a pet. 

Enroll a new pet
Add-a-pet

Take advantage of your multi-pet discount when you add a pet to your policy. When covering two or three pets, you can receive a 5% discount. When covering four or more pets, you'll save 10% on your base premium. Visit the member portal to add a pet. 

Enroll a new pet

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