Practising Hazard Awareness




You may be on alert when you are out with your dog, worrying there might be another dog or scary human around every corner. You need to be aware of possible hazards in the environment so that you can keep your dog safe but this doesn’t have to be stressful for you.

If you are an experienced driver, you notice potential hazards when you are in your car, but this is rarely stressful and does not stop you listening to the radio or holding a conversation at the same time.

This is because you have practiced hazard awareness while driving – and you can do the same for walking your dog.

First choose walking locations that are as open as possible. This allows you to create space for your dog when needed and lets you spot areas that may be risky – perhaps the path becomes narrower or there is a bend you can’t see around.

Practice looking around corners before your dog and plan what to do if someone else is coming. Get into the habit of noting where the nearest “passing place” is – perhaps you can move into a driveway or behind a parked car?

A great way to build your hazard handling skills is to go out without your dog and see what you encounter. What would you do if this happened when you were walking your dog?

Another tip is to video these outings so that you can rewatch later. This gives you the opportunity to practice spotting common hazards but also gives you the chance to pick up on things you didn’t notice at the time. In fact, watching any footage of dog walking environments is great to hone your skills. As you watch, imagine you are there with your dog. Where are your escape routes? Where would you have to take extra care?

Our brains learn almost as effectively when we practice in our imagination as when we do tasks in reality.

So take every opportunity to practice dog walking hazard awareness and you will soon find going out with your dog much more relaxing.

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