Dog walking for seniors does not have to be dangerous. Dogs are the perfect companion for an active lifestyle but like any exercise activity, it is important to develop and follow safety guidelines to reduce the chance of falling. Here are some ideas for seniors who love to walk their dogs.

I love my dogs and I love walking my dogs.

What I like about owning dogs is that they need exercise…so even if I’m not in the mood, they still need to out or a walk.

Results of a study out of the University of Liverpool suggest dog owners get on the average, 300 minutes each week walking their dogs, almost 200 minutes more than non-dog owners. But the researchers also discovered senior dog owners who do not walk their dogs have significant reasons: fear of falling.

Between 2004 and 2017, fractures from falling among dog walkers over 65 has more than doubled, as recently reported by the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Use the 6-point Ready Position

In order to set yourself up for a safe and fall-proof dog walk, use “The Ready Position.” Being able to quickly assume this position will prepare you when an unexpected situation arises. This ready position helps resist the force of a pulling dog.

Here is a breakdown of what it looks like:

  1. Stance: Feet shoulder width apart-create a wider base of support with your feet.
  2. Heels: Put your weight in your heels and off your forefoot for better balance.
  3. Knees: Bend knees slightly-let your legs do their job and lower your center of gravity.
  4. Core: Core engaged-tighten up your tummy muscles.
  5. Shoulders: Tighten the upper back/shoulders muscles.
  6. Elbows: Squeeze elbows into your sides

Ready position + dog walking tips = Safe dog walks

What about the dog? Here are possible situations where you will need to quickly assume this position:

  • When an off-leash dog runs toward you.
  • When a rabbit, squirrel or other furry animal runs across your path.
  • When approaching a house with a dog out front.
  • Any time you sense your dog might react.

After owning 7 high energy dogs over the past 30 years and working with several super-duper dog trainers, here is what I’ve learned:

  • Keep your dog close. Avoid the tendency to let him walk out in front.
  • Use a standard leash; avoid retractable leashes.
  • Dog manners matter. Don’t let him get away with adolescent antics.
  • Bring treats. Keep their focus on YOU.
  • Remember, you are the boss. Your dog needs you as a leader.

If your dog is unpredictable, hire a dog trainer. One private lesson can give you tips and tricks to distract your dog from whatever is garnering his attention and, in turn, focus on what his ultimate job is: to watch, listen and obey his leader. Isn’t it nice to be king or queen?

What has been your dog walking experience? Have you ever fallen?

Have a great (and safe) walk!