Will my dog get hurt on walks?

happy dog on her walk

Yes.  Most likely, at some point during their life time, your dog will be injured on a dog walk.  That doesn’t mean that your dog is walked in a mine field and once false step, and it’s adios pupper.  However, I would be lying if I told you dogs NEVER got hurt on dog walks.  Injuries can run the gambit from a small scratch or pulled muscle to an impalement or broken leg.

There are several factors that can change the likely hood of an injury: private, on leash only, group walks, off-leash parks, going off leash in non-off leash areas, walks in remote areas.  We will discuss all of them here.

A private walk is exactly like it sounds, private.  Only your dog is out on the walk.  These can be on leash only or include off leash time, but for the purposes of this blog, we’ll assume that the private walk is on leash only.  If your private walker includes off leash time, you’ll need to review the “Group Walk” paragraph that reflects the type of off leash time they have.  The walker to dog ratio is 1:1.  There is almost no interaction with unknown dogs, because the walker always has the option to cross a street or turn around.  As such, there is very little risk of them getting into a fight with another dog on the walk.  Theoretically, they could be attacked by another dog while out walking, but the chances are slim.  They are still at risk of stepping on a sharp piece of glass, rock or wood chip.

A Group walk: up to six dogs in a group on the walk together.  The walker to dog ratio is 1:6 (at the most).  Now the walker is watching up to six dogs at a time.  There is no way a walker can be watching ALL six dogs ALL the time.  We’re picking up poop, watching our surroundings and trying to watch six dogs.  This is true of all group walks, on leash and off leash.

On Leash only group walks: these walks are group walks, but on leash only.  These tend to be a reduced risk of injury because all the dogs are leashed all the time.  There’s almost no interaction with unknown dogs, because the walker always has the option to cross the street, hug the edge of a trail or turn around.  The dogs can still get into a fight with each other on leash.  The dogs can step on a sharp piece of glass, rock or wood chip.

Off Leash Group Walks in Off Leash Parks: these are group walks to official city off leash parks.  These dogs are at a greater risk of injury than their on-leash counterparts because, they are running around playing with each other, chasing balls or toys.  They could crash into each other, scratch each other with a nail, or accidentally nip in their excitement.  They could also be intentionally injured by another dog or person.  We don’t know all the other dogs we share the off leash park with each day.  There could be an aggressive dog in the park.  A person could hit a dog.  These areas are free and clear of brush and large environmental objects, though there tend to be holes dug in the ground. If a running dog stepped in a hole they could hurt themselves.  They are still at risk of stepping on a sharp piece of glass, rock or wood chip.

Off Leash Group Walks to Non Off Leash Areas:  these are group walks to areas in the city that are not recognized city run off leash parks.  These dogs are at a greater risk of injury than their on-leash counterparts because, they are running around playing with each other, chasing balls or toys.  They could crash into each other, scratch each other with a nail, or accidentally nip in their excitement.  These dogs may be at a reduced risk from unknown dogs because they tend to run into fewer dogs in these areas, but that would vary from day to day.  These dogs would be at a greater risk from environmental factors, because no one is maintaining the trails or fields they are walking in, or because they are running through thick brush.  Injuries can be sustained from thorns, branches, uneven ground and dumped garbage.  They are still at risk of stepping on a sharp piece of glass, rock or wood chip.

Off Leash Group Walks in Remote Areas: these are group walks in areas outside the city. These dogs are at a greater risk of injury than their on-leash counterparts because, they are running around playing with each other, chasing balls or toys.  They could crash into each other, scratch each other with a nail, or accidentally nip in their excitement.   These dogs may be at a reduced risk from unknown dogs because they tend to run into fewer dogs in these areas, but that would vary from day to day.  These dogs would be at a greater risk from environmental factors, because no one is maintaining the trails or fields they are walking in, or because they are running through thick brush.  Injuries can be sustained from thorns, branches, uneven ground and dumped garbage.  They are still at risk of stepping on a sharp piece of glass, rock or wood chip.  These dogs could also be at a greater risk because of the remoteness of their walking location.  Is there a vet office near them in case of an emergency?

Sharp objects
Other dogs
Unknown dogs
Environmental
Far from help
Private walks
Average
Low
Average
Low
Low
On leash
Average
Average
Average
Average
Low
Off leash parks
Average
High
High
Average
Low
Off leash in non park
High
High
Average
High
Low
Off leash in remote areas
High
High
Average
High
High

Sharps Objects could be anything from broken glass to rocks and wood chips.  They can be found on sidewalks, dog parks, trails in and out of the city.

Other dogs, for this purpose, are dogs who are known, but could pose a threat.

Unknown dogs, for this purpose, are dogs who are completely unknown.

Environmental is anything from thorns, branches to uneven ground or even garbage that someone has dumped.

Far from help/vet office or even cell service should an emergency occur.

Low means there’s a lower chance of encountering this risk.

Average means there’s an average/ medium chance of encountering this risk while on this type of walk.

High means there’s a higher chance of encountering this risk on this type of walk.

Even with all this being said, freak accidents can still happen. A driver has a heart attack while driving and jumps the curb hitting your dog or the group of dogs walking back to the car after a nice romp at the park.

So, what does all this mean?  What’s the right style of walk for you and your pup?  That’s a personal decision.  Some people are comfortable with environmental risks but not unknown dog risks.  Some people are comfortable with other dog risks but not remoteness. This is here to help you understand the risks associated with different styles of dog walking.  And the beauty thing about this industry, these days, is that you will be able to find any combination of the above, so you’ll be able to get exactly what you and your pup need.

One Comment on “Will my dog get hurt on walks?

  1. Pingback: Citizen Canine Exercising your dogs right to play! How to Choose the ‘Right’ Dog Walker

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