Dog Behaviour, Dog Equipment, Dog Training, Puppy

Do you take water out for your dog on their walks?

What ever the weather, it’s always important to take water out with you for your dog on walks. Dogs get thirsty the same as us and often are running about more. You might say “but my dog doesn’t drink on walks”, continue reading to find out why that might be.

If you don’t have water with you, dogs can end up disappearing in search of water, possibly drinking from a puddle or worse a stagnant ditch. Now don’t get me wrong some dogs just love drinking dirty water, and different water sources can have different minerals that they could be potentially seeking. However having a fresh safer options on you, is far more preferable. 

Have you ever been training your dog and they stop taking the treats? This could be because they are thirsty and it’s not rewarding, when you have a dry mouth to take more food, especially if you are using the dry biscuit type. Therefore it could become punishing to the dog to perform the behaviour you are actually training at the time.

Water is also another resource you can use as a reward for recall, as we all know if we are thirsty having a drink feels good. What is important however is never withhold water from them for training purposes!

Dogs with anxiety or ones that find some experiences outside stressful, often drink more water. So it’s vital when working on behaviour rehabilitation that these dogs are offered water on a regular basis, or you may find they switch off from treats quicker. 

I have been told on a number of occasions by dog guardians, that their dog will not drink water when out on walks, this maybe the case however the first questions I ask is:

“Has your dog drank from the bowl or bottle that you’re offering them to drink from when outside before?”

“Was enough time given to your dog before the walk to be come familiarised with the item, to enable them to feel comfortable with it?”

You will be surprised how many dogs I see that are actually scared of the water bowl/bottle dispenser that is being offered to them, or the way in which the water is presented to them. For some dogs it can be quite unsettling to be suddenly introduced to a weird novel object, then to have said object enthusiastically thrusted into their face or under their nose, this can appear to be somewhat threatening to a dog.

It’s really important with all equipment, that your dog is actually comfortable drinking from it, so it should be introduced in the house first with them happily using it, comfortable with you approaching them with it and then taken with you on the walk. Always get your dog to walk towards you rather than you moving to them with it in your hand. Normally they drink from a stationary bowl at home, and you are now moving towards them with something odd, sometimes in a forceful way (because you care), as you can see they are thirsty.

Another factor is how much water is dispensed, licking shallow water or dribbles out of a bottle doesn’t quench thirst and therefore some dogs do not bother. Dogs use the back of their tongue like a scoop, lifting the water up and into their mouth see the following video so ensure you have poured enough out before calling your dog over. 

If they generally do not drink outside and also rarely do at home it’s worth considering the following, mains water in different locations can be highly chlorinated which can prevent dogs from wanting to drink it and actually can have other adverse effects. This is why some dogs prefer filtered or natural spring bottle water.

Dogs can also be getting lot of moisture from the the food/treats they are getting, so it consuming it that way.

an option for these dogs not only to take water just incase, but also more watery treats like melon, cucumber any juicy fruit to provide a refreshing alternative, of course that’s if they like fruit, and it’s provided in moderation.

What ever dog you have, it’s vitally important that dogs have the option to drink whilst they are out.

Happy walking.


Dog Equipment

Poorly Fitted Harnesses

Harnesses are like a pair of shoes, a badly fitted one can effect movement, rub and generally be uncomfortable. This can impact how dogs walk, their behaviour in general on the lead and for puppies how they grow. It can encourage pulling to alleviate pressure or the position of the D ring can cause them to pull forward to keep balance. Many pet shops sell poorly designed harnesses.

Dachund with poorly fitted red harness
This harness is not tight enough and is slipping and is rubbing as the dog walks.

There are lots of harnesses that state they are non pull this is usually because it is hindering the stride in the front legs or tightening around the armpits.

Spaniel with poorly fitted harness
Hindering stride as rubbing on shoulder joint

You want one that sits above the shoulders so they can take a full stride, is clear of the armpit area and sits before the mid section of the spine where the bones point towards each other. The ideal harness has a Y front, is fixed and a good size back section specifically for the dogs shape.

Rubbing under arm pit and causing this dog to limp, loose and hindering shoulder joint.

I generally (although this is dog dependant) do not recommend walking on collars as it can cause a lot of discomfort around the neck and throat not to mention cutting off oxygen in the way we hold it or if they pull. Short nose breeds should always be walked on a harness. A long line should always be attached to a harness too, NEVER a collar it can cause whiplash and worse.

Top 3 Harnesses I recommend

Perfect Fit

The Perfect Fit Harness is one on my recommended list, these come in a huge array of sizes and three pieces for the bigger breeds so if one part doesn’t fit right you can send one piece back and it works the same way as they grow, as you can buy the next size up for the piece they have grown out of it replace sections if ever damaged. This harness is fleece lined with neck clips for the dogs who also are not comfortable with putting their head through the harness.

Tellington TTouch

The Tellington TTouch harness was designed and developed in the UK by Sarah Fisher to help dogs walk freely in balance on a loose lead, and to minimise pressure on important anatomical structures in dogs’ necks. The TTouch harness is manufactured in the UK from colour fast webbing and high quality D and O rings. It has contoured plastic clips on both sides of the neck piece and back piece. This enables the handler to fit the harness without triggering concern by putting the harness over the dog’s head or by lifting the dog’s front leg. It is easily removed by releasing the clips without the need to pull the harness over the head which can cause anxiety for some dog.

Blue 9 Balance Harness

The Blue K9 Balance Harness designed by Lori Stevens, Certified Dog Trainer and made in the USA, the unique Balance Harness™ has 6 adjustment points offering a customised fit for comfort, complete freedom of movement, and flexible lead attachment options. Its unique design offers you the flexibility of multiple adjustment points to ensure that your dog has a properly fitting harness to ensure comfort, proper movement, and safety.

A lot of shop bought harnesses have just one point of contact, all of the above harnesses have a ring at the front and a ring at the back (T Touch has a choice of two) for attaching the lead, making it both versatile and practical. By clipping a leash to the front of the harness instead of a collar, tension is reduced on the dog’s neck and back, helping to influence the dog’s balance and centre of gravity (thus improving gait and posture). Control is maintained simply by giving a gentle ask and release signal to the lead clipped to the front of the harness.

What is important is introducing the harness positively, we can often get away with putting things on puppies and some dogs because we can lift them up to do it, often we do not realise they are not comfortable with this. Dogs will give subtle signs that are often missed like lip licking, yawning, panting, cowering or them nipping us as an indication for us to stop. Over time when the harness comes out they can run a mile or sometimes even become aggressive.

Pair the whole process with lot of treats until they are comfortable; for sniffing the harness, putting nose towards harness, harness touching them, nose through hole, head going through, then dropping some on to a towel or snuffle mat to get the strap around their waist, then as soon as it’s on play with them and have fun. Listen when they are saying stop and go slower if they are.

Do not tie it instantly with going out on a walk particularly for any puppies/dogs that have never been on a walk or dogs that are a frightened outside as we can then accidentally teach them harness equals something scary. It’s important to take your time with the process, this will pay off in the end and ensure your dog is not anxious before the walk even gets started.

If your dog pulls remember to work on your loose lead walking, you must also rule out any anxiety on walks as this triggers pulling to get past things they are not comfortable with or physical discomfort as some dogs pull as a result of reduced mobility through the hind quarters.