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Dog Walking With Core Experts

We’re pretty sure you don’t need to tell us how to walk your dog (if you’re doing it at least one a day, you’re probably pretty well-practised!) but with a wealth of experience getting outdoors with and without our four-legged friends, our experts have a few tips and tricks on how to make the most of the time you spend outdoors with your dog. There’s more to walking your dog than meets the eye, so here’s what Cotswold Outdoor dog walking experts, Jon and Kate, have to say. 

Jon Hayward-Browne, South Cerney Core Expert

What would you say is the essential kit for your dog-loving customers?

Having the right footwear for the current weather that fits properly is so important, even for dog walkers. Next most important are waterproofs - tops and bottoms - and insulation, to protect you from the elements, however hard you try to predict the weather! Having kit that keeps you comfortable will mean you enjoy your walks much more. Next thing to consider would be bags and packs. Depending on the length of your walk, having a small pack can be useful to carry essentials if you’re out for a couple of hours or more. Finally, accessories are key, including hats and gloves for the chillier days and sun hat and sunglasses for when the weather warms up. 

What do dog walkers need to know before going outside with their dog?

The most useful thing you can do is to match what you wear with the weather. If it’s wet, wear a jacket or shell – ideally something like GORE-TEX which offers guaranteed waterproofing - and wear waterproof boots or wellies to keep your feet from getting damp and cold. If it’s dry and sunny all day, consider taking an extra layer in case the wind picks up later on, and some suitable sun protection including a hat, sunglasses and sun cream. You should also double check to make sure you always have enough poo bags and possibly a couple of treats in case of any troublesome terriers! Finally, if you’re going for a long walk, consider how you can offer your dog water, particularly if it’s hot. You can carry it in a flask or bottle, so you keep hydrated too. My last tip is that if you come by our stores, bring your dog and they will always get lots of attention from the staff! 

What would be your top tips for your dog walking customers?

Looking after your footwear, cleaning and reproofing it regularly is essential, and having the right pair of walking socks will be the difference between bliss and blisters!

 

Dog walkers are some of the most hardwearing on footwear because they walk so much, so it’s best to spend a bit more on your boots to get more wear out of them and help them to last longer. Some boots will give you 2-3 years as a regular dog walker, whereas other brands and models will only last 6 months. It’s good to have that expert knowledge when you’re shopping for footwear, so you don’t end up having to constantly replace them! Something like the Scarpa Terra or Merrell Bhutan are a reliable choice that offer comfort and durability for the regular dog walker. Another tip is that it’s often useful to have two pairs on the go, particularly in the wet weather. This allows one pair to dry out properly before it’s used again, to prevent extra wear and tear and soggy feet! 

Any tips for people who run with their dogs?

Most runners will use a waist bungie lead, but I think that’s a personal choice, and it’s not for everyone. However, runners do need to remember that if they need water, energy gels and such on an extended run, make sure you have both for your dog because they’ll need it too! Also make sure you have poo bags and use them: just because you are running doesn't mean you don't have to pick up the poo! 

Kate Smith, Learning and Development Team

What would be on your essential kit list for any dog walker?

First things first: footwear. Shoes, boots, socks, and sometimes wellies, if you’re always walking in wet grassy areas but not for particularly long distances at a time. Consider the length of your walks, the season and weather and the terrain. Clothing wise, you need to think about insulation layers and waterproofs, and what is appropriate in which weather. Hats and gloves are must, especially in winter and are really important when you’re not moving that fast as your extremities will get cold quickly! One other thing that’s really useful in hot weather or long walks is a collapsible plates/bowl which can be used as a portable dog water bowl.

What are your top tips when helping dog walkers to choose the right footwear?

Surprisingly, dog walkers are often the most difficult to find the right fit. Most aren’t tackling very challenging terrain and tend to stick to footpaths, fields and woodland. For this type of terrain, I’d usually suggest walking shoes but because dog walkers are out whatever the weather, often in wet, grassy fields and can really clock up the miles compared to a ‘weekend hiker’, shoes get worn out quickly and boots last longer, plus they’re more likely to keep your feet dry.

 

Ultimately, finding the perfect fit really depends on what is most important to the individual - durability, comfort, waterproofness or value for money. 

 

For example, if waterproofness is most important and you aren’t walking long distances, then wellies are always the best choice. If durability is more important, I’d always suggest a boot over a shoe as this will inevitably last longer. Some walkers don’t like the feel of a boot around the ankle, especially if they’re not used to it, but boots generally do provide better value for money as they will last longer. Since the average dog walker goes through at least two pairs of shoes in the time a boot would last them, I would always recommend a boot. 

 

A good middle ground alternative is a ‘mid’ boot. They still don’t last as long as boots, but they do offer a bit more ankle support and protection from long wet grass because of the higher ankle cuff. 

How can dog walkers help to prolong the life of their footwear?

Many of our customers who come back with ‘faulty’ shoes are actually dog walkers who have simply worn out their shoes due to all the miles they’ve clocked up! Another problem is lack of aftercare or inappropriate drying of footwear. Most dog walkers wear their footwear on a daily basis and they often can’t fit in time to clean or re-proof them each day. Some could even be forgiven for thinking that cleaning is pointless if you’re going to get them dirty again the next day! However, if footwear gets wet then the primary concern is usually getting it dry again quickly for the next walk which often means drying on a radiator or woodburner to speed up the process. This is big no-no! 

 

My top tips for cleaning and drying your boots after walking would be to start by rinsing the mud off the outside after every walk and make time to reproof them at least once a month. If your footwear gets wet inside, soak up as much moisture as you can with absorbent kitchen towel while drying. Another good idea is to have a pair of wellies you can use for shorter walks or really wet weather instead, to prevent your shoes or boots getting soaked. 

What should dog walkers look out for when choosing clothing?

Durable trousers are a must! First, so that they last the wear and tear of walking - clambering over stiles, squeezing past brambles or falling over in the mud! - but also all the inevitable scrapes and scratches from having fun playing with your dog! Lightweight fabrics could get scratched, ripped or bobbled, so durable walking trousers are best. 

 

Clothes that are easy to wash and dry if they get dirty are important, particularly if your dog likes to jump up at you when they’re covered in mud! Insulated clothing such as down jackets are not something you want to have to wash very often and require careful tumble drying, so aren’t always the most practical. They also usually have lighter, less durable face fabrics and are easily torn by an excitable dog. 

 

3-in-1 jackets offer great versatility for different times of year: the waterproof outer can be worn at any time, and the fleece or insulated inner layer can be worn zipped in under it on a cold wet day in winter, or on its own in drier weather. These are a better option as the outer waterproof can be wiped clean or washed more easily than the down jacket and will protect the it from any stray dog claws. However, synthetic filled insulation is more practical than down as it’s easier to wash, dries more quickly and can be dried without a tumble drier.

Have you got any tips for dog walkers wanting to camp with their four-legged friends?

If you’re keen on camping and fancy taking your dog along, it’s crucial to invest in a tent with a porch that’s big enough for the dog! With family-sized tents it’s usually not a problem, but when it comes to backpacking or lightweight tents which you might carry whilst walking, make sure you consider the space for your dog to sleep too. I would recommend a tunnel shaped tent as these usually offer the largest porches and have better height in the porch too. In a family tent, tent carpets are great for protecting the groundsheet in the living area from sharp dog claws and can be removed to be washed after camping trip.

 

Check out our best small tents for camping with dogs here.


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