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With the spring season in full swing, many of us are excited to enjoy lighter, longer days and to spend more time outdoors with our precious pets.
However, what we imagine to be a leisurely walk around the neighborhood can quickly turn into a stressful and uncomfortable walk if our furry friend gets overexcited, especially with so many new sights and smells.
PDSA Veterinary Nurse Nina Downing said: “It’s important to remember that it’s only natural for our dogs to get excited about a walk – being outside is so much fun for them!”
She added: “However, it can get quite uncomfortable and tiring for both of you if they get into the habit of pulling on the leash, and it’s not fun if you’re still having trouble controlling them.
“Fortunately, there are ways to help our dogs behave calmly, so you can both enjoy your free time.”
Play time before the walk
Nina said: “If your dog tends to get over-excited on walks, teaching him to relax and calm down will help calm him down – you’ll need to practice this at home.
She added: ‘It can also be helpful to schedule some physically and mentally stimulating games at least 30 minutes before going out, giving them time to cool down again so they don’t wind up just before leaving.
“It will help burn off some of their energy before their walk, without tiring them out.”
Stop and start training
Nina added, “The best way to stop your dog from pulling is to show him that walking on a loose leash is a reward, and pulling isn’t.
“Pack lots of healthy treats on your walks and as soon as your dog starts pulling, stop walking. They should learn in time that being by your side gets them where they want to go and pulling doesn’t.
“Don’t bring them back to you, wait for them to come back to you. Once there is slack in the leash again, reward it with a treat and keep walking.
“You may need to do this a few times at first, so your walk may take longer than usual, but be sure to praise them when they respond well to the training.”
Consistency is key
Nina added, “Habits can’t be broken overnight, so it’s important to be patient during the training process. You’ll need to follow these steps on every step, so do your best to be consistent and not give up.
“Never punish your dog for pulling – he will learn more effectively with positive training – and don’t use anything that is painful to your dog or restricts his movement, such as a choke or shock collar. Instead, use a harness to avoid any neck injuries.” (photos: Adobe)
Ask our expert
PDSA Veterinary Nurse Nina Downing answers all your pet questions
Dear PDSA vet, my dog Bobbi is getting really anxious about going to the vet, but she just developed itchy red patches around her eyes and I’m quite worried. What can I do to help? Lindsey
Dear Lindsey, many animals don’t like going to the vet and can become anxious. There are ways to help Bobbi with this in the longer term, but right now it is important that she is seen by her vet so that she is properly diagnosed and receives the right treatment. There are several possible causes for his condition, such as a skin infection, parasites, or allergy, all of which will require veterinary treatment.
When you make an appointment, let your vet know that Bobbi is becoming anxious. They may be able to recommend something to help him stay calm or even offer him a home visit. Your veterinary practice will be able to advise you on behavioral techniques to reduce the stress of future visits.
Dear PDSA Vet, I recently noticed that my cat, Cherry, has lost two of his back teeth, and he also appears to have lost his food. What’s wrong ? Vance
Dear Vance, there are many medical conditions that can cause a cat to lose its appetite, but if Cherry has lost teeth, she may have dental disease.
This can make his mouth sore, which could explain why he’s less interested in eating his food. Any animal that stops eating properly should be taken to a veterinarian so the cause can be investigated.
If dental issues are diagnosed, Cherry may need additional treatment to ease her pain and prevent other issues from developing.
It’s a good idea to have your cat’s teeth checked regularly by your veterinarian to help catch any problems early on.
Dear PDSA vet, My dog accidentally got his tail stuck in the door the other day and the tail came off. There was blood – not much – so I cleaned it up and bandaged it. Should I still take her to a vet? Phyliss
Dear Phyliss, unfortunately dogs’ and cats’ tails are at risk of being caught, trapped and stepped on, so it’s always wise to stay alert and know where our pets are, to keep them safe.
It’s always best to see your vet whenever your pet gets injured, so the vet can make sure all wounds are thoroughly cleaned and dressed and operated on if necessary, hoping to prevent infection.
For advice on pet first aid, visit www.pdsa.org.uk/petfirstaid. Visit your vet to make sure the wound is healing and the vet can provide treatment and pain relief. yorks