Walkies are supposed to be fun, but for some dogs (and their owners), they can be a real source of anxiety. Whether it's other dogs, cars, scooters or just the sheer amount of people, it can be really stressful when your dog gets worked up.
We’re sharing simple steps you can take to reduce anxiety on your dog walks. Let’s make leaving the house with your dog a lot more relaxing for both of you.
Read on to discover our top five tips for easing anxiety when walking your anxious dog.
1. Choose robust walking accessories
If you have an anxious dog who lunges and barks when out on walks or pulls on the lead, you will feel more confident if your dog walking accessories are strong and durable.
A flimsy lead or poorly fitting harness just amps up your anxiety about being able to control your dog if you have an unavoidable reaction.
You want to be confident that your dog’s harness fits well and that they can’t slip out of it if they get in a panic. Equally, you want to feel that your lead can take any impact from your dog’s pulling and will hold up to strain.
Our range of dog leads are all made of durable and strong materials and have a soft padded handle to increase your comfort. They come with a range of messaging to encourage others to give you and your dog space, which is embroidered on both sides for maximum visibility.
We’re always happy to talk and help you find the best fitting harness and accessories for your dog. Get in touch and we’ll advise on the best pick products to suit your needs.
2. Harness the power of yellow dog accessories
Yellow space awareness products help let others know that your dog needs space. Having a bright, easy to spot and read warning message on your lead, harness, or dog attire is an effective way to reduce stress on your walks.
Over 78% of the anxious and reactive dog owners we surveyed said that yellow accessories for their dog helps them enjoy their walks more and feel more confident. They experience less confrontations with people who don’t understand and actually receive empathy from people on their walks.
I like to layer my anxious dog accessories for maximum visibility. So I might put Bella in her no-pull anxious dog harness, add a keep away lead slip and use our yellow double-ended training lead with carabiner clip for extra security.
The double-ended dog lead is brilliant if you sometimes need a shorter lead, but want to extend it in safe spaces to give your dog more freedom. It’s also brilliant for dogs who pull, as you can attach one end to the chest of their no-pull harness and the other to the back - giving you more control.
3. Assemble to advocate
A lot of people shy away from using yellow space awareness products with their dog through fear or judgement or labelling.
That’s why we work so hard to educate the public, so that they can empathise and understand what the world is like for anxious, nervous and reactive dogs.
91% of owners we surveyed who use yellow space awareness products are working to increase awareness of what it means in their local area and online. When people in your area understand what the yellow means, you will find they will be much more compassionate when they see you and your #doginyellow out and about.
We’re stronger together, and YOU will feel much more confident on your dog walks when people understand what your dog in yellow needs from them.
Georgia told us, “Since getting a yellow anxious harness we have noticed more owners putting their dogs on the lead and giving our dog space. It has helped our stress when out and about as people don’t give us rude comments or looks anymore. Because we are less anxious it helps us be good leaders for our dog.”
4. Reduce your dog walks
You don’t have to take your dog out for walks everyday if you’re both struggling. In fact, anxious and nervous dogs can become more ‘trigger stacked’ if they have consecutive exposure to stressful events.
Each stressful experience stacks on top of the previous, making your dog feel even more heightened and often leading to more intense reactions.
If your dog wants to go home during a walk, stops and freezes or has a meltdown, it’s ok to turn back and go home. In fact, it’s recommended by many reactive dog trainers.
Instead, spend some time playing together, training, and providing enrichment at home, so your dog can get the physical and mental stimulation they need – minus the stress.
Plus, you get a breather from the sometimes stressful experience of walking your anxious dog.
5. Wear awareness raising clothing
Some dog owners tell me they don’t want to label their dog. They don’t want people thinking badly of their dog or they’re concerned about admitting liability if their dog harms or scares somebody.
We all have a duty to keep our dogs safe and under control. But as many anxious or reactive dog owners know, it’s often an off-lead out of control dog that causes a problem rather than our own dogs. Our dogs are on lead, under control, and only reacting because someone or something has come too close.
Yellow space awareness products encourage and warn people to keep their distance. But there is an alternative if you don’t feel ready to try them.
We do a range of human accessories including anxious dog t-shirts, hoodies and sweatshirts. You can wear them on your dog walks, or wear them when you’re out without your dog to raise awareness in your community.
Leave shame behind, you’re awesome!
Having an anxious, nervous or reactive dog is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, owners of dogs who need a little extra understanding often go above and beyond to meet their dog’s needs. You’re doing an awesome job, and we think you should celebrate the love and devotion you dedicate to your dog… even on the hardest days.
We hope this helps to alleviate some of the stress and worries from your dog walks.