Tips and Tricks: City Walks


A long walk through the neighborhood is great enrichment for our shelter dogs. Walks are a great way to provide needed exercise and a flavor of life. It’s also an excellent way to advertise these dogs for adoption.

Here are some tips and tricks for a city walk or run…

What you’ll need:

1.  A shelter dog that you are comfortable with; the last thing you should do is take a dog that you are not comfortable with into an environment with somewhat unpredictable stimuli.

2.  Proper Equipment

  • A sturdy leash: shelters use a lot of donations, so check the leash for tears or signs or weakness.
  • Make sure to use whatever walking equipment is best suited for the dog (i.e. collar, EZ Walk Harness, Gentle Leader, regular harness, etc.)
  • If you are walking a dog with just a collar, make sure it is either a martingale type collar or a regular collar that is snug so it won’t slip over the dog’s head if he or she pulls backwards

3. Treats for rewarding good behavior and drawing a dog’s attention to you during distracting times.

4. A treat pouch or pocket you don’t mind storing those delicious treats in.

5. Waste Bags! Bring two – just in case!

If your “Shelter Dog” is available for adoption….

6. Put a jacket or bandana stating that he or she is available.

7. Make sure you are wearing clothing that makes it obvious you work for or volunteer with the organization – it’s free advertising.

8. Business cards and a pen– if someone stops to talk to you or comments on how well behaved your dog is, hand them your organization’s business card and write your name and the dog’s name. Who knows, you might just have found this dog a home!


Tips for a Successful Walk:

1. Learn as much about the dog as possible before going on a City Walk. Though these walks help us learn about the dog, if we already have the     information we want to be prepared to work with the dog through the problem. For example: if we already know the dog has prey drive  toward squirrels, it’s better to be prepared for that then have the dog try to pull you across a busy street if he or she sees one. This way, when you see a squirrel, you can draw the dog’s attention to you (with those yummy treats you have) and ask the dog to sit, or go in a different direction.

2.  If you have a route for your walk mapped out, be okay with changing it. You might find that this walk is too overwhelming for the dog with you, so you’ll need to change and go down quieter streets or just go immediately back to the shelter.

3.  If people ask to pet the dog you have with you…

  • If available for adoption – ask them if they’d be willing to have him or her do a trick instead – keep it simple, like “sit” or “paw”
  • If not yet available – politely tell them that we are still learning about the dog and it would be best if they didn’t.
  • Always hand them a business card!

4.  Enjoy the walk! It’s a perfect time to get out of the office or shelter and      enjoy the fresh air. And going with a group can be a lot of fun too!