|Here I am at the walk finish|
with my owner.
1. Read the walk or hike details: Find out about the terrain, the length of the walk and consider your dog's abilities. Make sure it is a good fit. You will be expected to stay with the group. I, Francesca, limit my volkswalking to 5K walks. I know that is about as much as I want to walk.
2. Are Dogs Allowed: Check and see if your dog is allowed on the walk or hike, on the trail or in the park where you will be visiting. Volkswalks state right on the event description whether or not pets are allowed.
3. Check the weather: Heat can be deadly to dogs. Walking on city streets or paved roads increases the heat. Here is an excellent article about the dangers of hiking in the heat. And, conversely (Cinnamon taught me some big words), a walk on a rainy day might not be all that fun.
4. Bring Water: Dogs get thirsty. If it is a warm day, bringing water is especially important. There are collapsable dog bowls and water bottles with attached bowls that you can carry for your dog. Amazon carries a variety of them.
5. Leashes: Even if your dog is good about coming back to you on command, a leash is important when you are walking with a group. It is important that the dog not interfere with others who are walking or get overly friendly with another dog on the walk or hike. Good leash manners are important. It is especially important that the leash not trip someone who is walking or hiking with you. If your dog goes from one side of the trail to the other, you might want to walk last so that you don't trip someone!
6. Other Dogs: If there are other dogs on the walk or hike, space them so they don't interfere with the group by playing, pulling toward each other or, heaven forbid, fighting! Talk to the other dog owners so you can work these things out.
7. Clean Up: It goes without saying that owners need to carry bags and pick up after their dogs. Usually that will be listed on the rules for the trail.
8. Registration Courtesy: When I was new to volkswalking, I trotted right up to the registration table and then saw a loose dog. I pulled and barked my head off. Lesson learned. Dogs should stay in the car while the owner registers for an event. But be mindful of heat... not in a hot or warm car.
9. Treats: I, Francesca, think this is a really good idea. Often people stop on the trail and enjoy a snack and so dogs should too. I think being rewarded for good behavior makes walking and hiking even more fun.
10. Backpacks: Dogs need to be tested and trained to wear a backpack. It should be the right size for their weight and height. If a dog can wear a backpack on a hike or walk, you can fill the pockets with water, treats and bags. Test out your dog's tolerance for a backpack at home before trying to use it in a group walk. If it doesn't work out, YOU, the owner may be carrying everything! You can buy dog backpacks on Amazon.com.
Editor's Note: Of course I, Cinnamon, worked on this with Francesca so she could elevate her writing. I also made sure she checked her facts before we published the article.