Life has changed quite dramatically in recent weeks, due to the spread of the coronavirus. Yet, getting outside to take the dog for a walk can do wonders for your mental and physical health. (Plus Fido will appreciate the exercise too!)

Certainly, it’s vital to stay informed during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, staying cooped up indoors, glued to the TV will do nothing for your wellbeing.

What’s more, it’s essential to maintain a routine — even if it is slightly different from the norm. So, if you have a dog it’s important you continue dog walking. Of course, the difference now is that you must practice social distancing while out walking the dog.

How to practice social distancing while dog walking

Most dog walkers are friendly, sociable people who like to stop for a chat with other pet parents or pass the time of day. However, to help limit the spread of coronavirus in your community, you might have to settle for saying “hello” from afar!

Here are some other ways to continue dog walking without risking the health of your community.

Say hello from afar

Practicing social distancing doesn’t mean you have to be rude to dog-walking friends and passers-by. You don’t need to stand right next to someone to say hello.

Indeed, you can still acknowledge another person and keep your distance. A friendly smile can say “hello” in almost the same way as words, so too can a wave across the street or a wink accompanied by a thumbs up!

What’s more, don’t feel rude if you cross the street in order to practice social distancing. In actual fact, crossing the street or giving a wide berth is a great way to show courtesy to fellow passers-by. Maybe just offer a sign of acknowledgment as you do so.

Keep Fido on the leash

When dog walking consider, keeping your fur pal on the leash (even if you normally let him or her off). Yes, dogs love to free roam but for the time being it’s safer to keep hold of them.

Keeping your dog on its leash will assist you to adhere to the social distancing recommendations. After all, you don’t want to find yourself running over to a fellow dog walker to retrieve your mischievous pooch.

In addition, keeping your dog on its lead may help avoid accidents or injuries, which could result in a trip to the vet.

Sanitise on the go

As responsible pet parents, we should be picking up after our pooches. As such, we need to be mindful that numerous other people might have touched the garbage bin we are throwing our poop bags into.

If possible use a clean tissue (or spare poo bag) to open the bin and, ideally, rub some sanitiser into your hands afterward. On your arrival home, wash your hands well with soap and warm water.

dog owner in woods with dog

Change to the norm

In the UK, the RSPCA is urging local councils to reduce the restrictions placed on where dogs can be walked. This will help prevent unnecessary travel between suburbs and help reduce the number of dog walkers in specified dog walking parks.

You can support social distancing by making small changes to your normal dog-walking routine. For example, try going earlier in the morning when fewer people are out or later in the evening.

If you’re now keeping your dog on a leash, you don’t necessarily need to go to the local dog park. Instead, map out a new dog-walking route. They say a change is as good as a holiday, so you might actually enjoy taking in some different scenery.

It’s great that we can still walk our dogs. However, it’s also important we all do our bit to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. In what ways are you practicing social distancing while dog walking?


Image source: Unsplash


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Leanne Philpott

Leanne is a freelance writer at She works alongside her fur pal Chewie (a border terrier) and is passionate about promoting responsible pet ownership.

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