Stepping out in Style

Your dog is going to be out and about, whether it’s for daily constitutional, taking in a dog obedience class, or accompanying you on a visit to friends. Whenever he puts in a public appearance, he’ll need a leash and you’ll want a way of cleaning up after him. Depending on the kind of dog he is, you may also want to consider a coat, slicker or shows for bad weather.

Leashes, also called leads, come in several lengths and widths to accommodate dogs of all sizes and to feel comfortable in your hands. The most popular lengths are four feet or six feet, but retractable leashes are great for walks in the open. They extend up to 15 or 20 feet and retract to whatever length you wish at the push of a button. These give your dog plenty of room to explore while he is still well under your control.

“When choosing a leash, consider what activities you share with your dog, his size, and how obedient he is,” says Stronberg.

Leashes are made from leather on nylon and are available in single ply, double ply, or braided, for added strength. Don’t weight a small dog down with a heavy leash. Your obedience instructor may recommend a specific style, but if not, choose one that you find attractive and that suits your pocketbook.

Most dogs go through life without ever wearing a muzzle. However, if your dog needs one, get a nylon muzzle that allows him to pant and drink water but not to bark or bite, advises Stronberg. Some muzzles are meant for grooming purposes only, so make sure that what you buy fully covers your needs.

Canine Couture:
If your dog is going to be out in the cold, the rain, or the snow, he may need more than his fur coat to keep him cozy. There are many jacket and coat styles to choose from to suit your dog’s special needs. For example, if your dog is so short-coated that he’s practically bald on the chest and belly, go for a style that protects him below as well as above. Rain slickers and handy for keeping your dog weather. “Polar fleece is popular for dog jackets and coats because it provides insulation, keeping the dog warm and drawing away moisture,” says Stronberg. “Beware of thin, knitted sweaters. They don’t ward off snow, rain or extreme cold and are generally chosen mainly for the sake of their appearance.”

Good quality polar fleece boots with cordura nylon soles are good for protecting his feet against snow and rain, or when hiking in rugged terrain. “Take your dog along to your local pet store to be properly fitted,” advises Stronberg.

If socializing your dog is difficult because he looks so big and tough that strangers are scared of him, try trying a bright bandana around his neck or attaching a big fake flower to his collar. Imagine the effect of a Rottweiler wearing a silk poinsettia in December of a daffodil to celebrate spring. Instead of looking formidable, he’ll look more friendly, and most people are likely to greet him with a smile. He’ll soon be getting his share of socialization from those he meets.

Also fun, although not every dog thinks so, are the colorful hats with visors made especially for dogs.

Pooper Scoopers:
Pooper – scoopers come in many varieties, and are available at pet supply stores. The most popular styles are made of aluminum and have either a rake – like base for cleaning up grassy yards or a smooth base for cleaning up pavement and concrete. Some dogs owners prefer to carry a plastic bag. This fits in a pocket or purse and is turned inside out for the pickup, then closed and tossed in the nearest trash can.