Some dogs barely require a leash as they leisurely stroll through their morning or afternoon walk.
Others—like mine on particularly rambunctious days—require both hands intensely gripping the leash, a leash made of something like Captain America’s shield, and strong back support (for the pet owner).
It took me a while to develop my particular set of must-have items to walk my highly energetic and powerful 100-plus pound German shepherd, but once I figured it out, it made my life infinitely easier.
Walking Belt or Bag
First and foremost, you need a place to put your stuff. I consider myself a minimalist, but I still need a place for my keys, phone, etc. Plus, treats are a must for when my dog does what I ask of him, and so are poop bags and hand sanitizer. I’m a huge fan of DOOG’s (Dog Owners Outdoor Gear) belts, which come in several colors and hold everything I take on my walks, including treats.
Most of the time, my dog is fairly well-behaved, but he gets super excited when he sees dogs and that’s when he’ll pull. In addition to specific training techniques we practice for his overexcitement, The Gripper Leash—“incorporating rubberized stitching into a woven cotton/polyester fabric”—has been very helpful.
Particularly when it’s hot, you’ll want to have water readily available for your high-energy dog. But who wants to carry the bottle? Plus, you’re trying to keep your hands free, right? H2O4K9 has a great solution in its water bottle/sling combo. They have two sizes of food-grade stainless steel bottles with BPA-free caps that also function as water bowls. And you can comfortably hang the NEOSLING water bottle holder over your shoulder for hands-free, easy access.
For early morning or late evening walks, you’ll want to have some lighting to warn cyclists, runners, other walkers that you are there with a dog. There are many brands of lights available—from collar attachments to collars. I prefer the rechargeable kind.
I have a love-hate relationship with hand sanitizer. I don’t like to overuse it because I know many can have a strong alcohol component that I don’t want to expose my pets to. At the same time, I pick up less than sanitary things when walking my dog—it’s just part of life. So, I compromise with using an alcohol-free, gentler hand sanitizer like CleanWell.
Not all dog owners follow the “keep your dog on a leash” rule, so I have been in the situation where we have an off-leash dog running and barking at us. Not an easy situation when you have a large excitable dog like mine. Because of this, something noisy can help to distract barking dogs. I always carry a Dazer on my belt, which emits ultrasonic sound (silent for us but not our dogs) to help deter approaching aggressive dogs when you click the button. You can also try a whistle, worn around your neck.
You can turn a stressful walk into a more leisurely one with just a few simple additions to your doggie tool kit. Trust me, they help.
Jessica Peralta has been a journalist for more than 15 years and an animal lover all her life. She has had dogs, cats, birds, turtles, fish, frogs, and rabbits. Her current children are a German shepherd named Guinness and a black kitten named Riot (and he lives up to that name). It’s because of her love for animals that she focused her journalistic career to the world of holistic animal care and pet nutrition. In between keeping Riot and Guinness out of mischief, she’s constantly learning about all the ways she can make them healthier and happier.