One thing that is for certain about the COVID-19 Pandemic is that our pets are happy to have us home 24/7. Walking our dogs and other companion animals can be a great way to get out of the house and to get some much-needed fresh air and exercise.
While we may be walking our pets more, we aren’t the only ones that have dogs to walk! With all of our neighbors stuck inside all day, they’re all itching to get out as well. So, while outdoor exercise is allowed in our “Stay at Home” or “Shelter-in-Place” orders, we need to be mindful when we do.
You’ve also likely seen the images online of doggos on walks wearing masks and booties to protect them from germs. You may be wondering if your pet should be protected as well. So, we will go over precautions to take for mitigating transmission as well as safe places to take your dog to exercise.
Check out our other blog post if you want to know more information about Pets and Coronavirus Transmission.
Where to Safely Walk Your Dog while Social Distancing
Bringing your dog on a walk or a run once or twice a day can be a safe and fun activity to do together. No matter the type of social distancing enforcement in your community, the best option is to stay as close to home as possible. Walking in your neighborhood still gives you some much needed time away from home, but prevents you from unnecessary travel and interactions.
It can be tempting to go for hikes or walks in certain parks. However, you should expect those areas to be crowded and busy. With so many people out of work, working from home, and with gyms closed, everyone is flocking to outdoor spaces.
While outdoor recreation is a fantastic stress reliever, we also need to respect physical boundaries to mitigate the risk of spreading this virus. So, if there is a time when a park or hiking trail is vacant, you can choose to walk there, but staying close to home will be the safest option in most cases.
Practice Proper Hygiene & Social Distancing on Walks
Even if you only stick to walking in your immediate neighborhood, you’re bound to see a few other people out. To continue practicing proper social distancing, we have a few tips to help your dog, and you keep your distance from other people and pets:
- Cross the street (when safe/legal) if another person is approaching on the sidewalk
- Step to the side and face away if you can’t cross the street – keep your dog on the inside, between you and other people/pets
- Carry and use hand sanitizer on your walks
- Do not touch your face
- Prevent your dog from interacting with other pets and people
- Say “no” to people when they ask to pet your dog
- Figure out less busy times of day to walk
- Stick to less busy areas of town if possible
- Clean up after your pet properly – We really like these!
- Avoid petting or touching your dog when on walks
What to do when you’ve returned from your walk:
- Take off shoes by the entrance door
- Wipe off dog paws when returning home (especially if they go on furniture)
- Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds after you return home
- Sanitize your dog’s leash or other things you’ve touched
Continue to practice good hygiene with your dog. This means that you should continue giving them regular baths, and if your dog groomer is closed, find a way to bathe your dog at home.
Is it Safe to go to the Dog Park?
In most cases, avoid the dog park.
If this is your dog’s only way for off-leash exercise:
- Try to go to the dog park during off-hours to prevent contact with others.
- Do not sit on benches
- Bring hand sanitizer to use after opening and closing gates.
- Use personal doggie bags, not ones provided at the park
- If you get to the park and it is crowded, leave and try to return at a less busy time.
While you shouldn’t worry about your dog getting the virus, it is impossible to know how many people have brought their pets to the park.
Treat this time like going to the grocery store. It is imperative to continue social distancing at the dog park, avoid touching your face, only touch necessary objects, and wash your hands when returning home.
If you have gone to the dog park, follow the sanitation guidelines you would after a walk.
Dog Park Alternatives
If you have a friend or relative that has a large backyard for your dog to run and play off-leash in, this may be a safer option than going to the dog park. You can arrange to use their yard without even coming into contact with them. If they have a dog, this can be an excellent way to get your dog some much-needed socialization.
It is best to avoid puppy playdates when it isn’t necessary. However, if it is an alternative to the public dog park, it can be much cleaner. After all, you know that your friend or relative will have limited the number of people on their property during this time.
You should still be cautious if you do this. Practice safe distance from other people and avoid touching their dog. When you’ve returned home, practice proper hygiene as detailed earlier.
Can I Still Book with My Usual Dog Walker?
Dog walkers and pet sitters are losing a ton of business right now. With stay at home orders, more people have extra time to spend with their pets. However, if you are an essential worker, you may not have that luxury. You may also need some time away from your pet if you are trying to work from home. This is especially true for young dogs that want to play all the time.
Try to stick to your usual dog walker if you need to book an appointment. They will know your pet, your boundaries, and have better communication than booking with a new service.
If you are search of a new dog walking service in the Phoenix, AZ area, check out our Pawfect Pet Sitting COVID-19 Guidelines and learn how we are keeping our clients, staff, and pets safe. Also, feel free to look at our COVID-10 hygiene protocol to put it in place with your existing dog walker if necessary.
Need ideas for exercising your dog indoors? Check out our latest blog post.
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