Lockdown Advice: Preparing for walks

With COVID-19 restrictions in place, changed walking routines can be confusing and frustrating for dogs. Planning ahead and preparing how to make the most of walks will help your dog cope. Here are some tips to ensure our dogs get the exercise and mental stimulation they need, while observing social distancing.

  1. The government advises dogs should be on-lead if you're walking near other people. If you’re not, it’s OK let them off lead.

    Dogs don’t carry the virus, but they could have it on their fur or collar. That's why it’s so important to keep them away from people who could be infected, and avoid them contacting other dogs.


  2. Government advice is that a person can go out once a day for exercise.

    If you live in single adult home, then your dog should get one walk per day. If you live in a four-person home, your dog could go out once with each person.

    What sort of problems might I have?

    If your dog is used to lots of walks, running free, greeting other people and playing with doggy pals then the COVID-19 restrictions could be frustrating for them. They won’t understand why you’re not allowing them to do their usual stuff. Frustration can cause them to show different behaviours, like pulling on the lead, lunging and barking or trying to grab their lead. By keeping walks interesting and varied, introducing new games and helping them explore even if on lead you can help avoid these problems.

  3. A well-fitted harness can be more comfortable if your dog isn't used to walking on a lead, or might pull during a walk.

    Take a longer lead, such as a soft longline, out with you to give your dog more freedom to explore. Longlines should be attached to harnesses rather than collars.

    If your dog hasn’t worn a harness before, get them used to it gradually.

    Start by only putting it on for short periods in the house. Use a lot of treats and praise too. This will help your dog to happily accept it.

  4. It makes the walk much more enjoyable for both of you if your dog can walk on a loose lead.

    It's also a valuable skill if you need to combine your dog walk with taking children out or pushing a buggy.

  5. Going off the paths and allowing your dog to explore will help them enjoy walks when on the lead. You’ll be better prepared to walk across grass or muddy areas, giving your dog much more opportunity to explore, if you're wearing ready footwear.

    It may also help you avoid other walkers, when you need to stay two metres away.


    Bring plenty of your dog’s favourite treats with you. You’ll be ready to keep their attention on you, reward them for walking on a loose lead or coming back to you.

    You can also use treats to play fun games such as laying a treat trail for your dog to follow. Or throw treats out to either side of you for your dog to chase, find and enjoy – which you can do safely on-lead.

  7. Taking your dog’s favourite toy along can help them to focus on playing with you rather than running off to explore.

    Toys make a great distraction. Playing with them is a great way to engage your dog's brain as well as use up some physical energy.

    Read more on enrichment here