These days, nobody really goes anywhere without their phone – even to hang out the washing or run upstairs – and a reasonable case can be made for saying that we’re hugely over reliant on these devices, and in some ways let them take over our lives.
We’ve all seen families or friends sitting together in a group ostensibly ignoring each other while their phones get their full attention, as well as plenty of dog walkers paying no mind to where their dogs are or what they are doing, instead focusing on their phone screens with great concentration.
Most of us have been guilty of this latter scenario ourselves at some point, and for many people, walking the dog also serves a dual role of letting us chat online to friends, catch up on social media, and otherwise entertain ourselves.
This shouldn’t be the case, and ideally, your phone should only come out of your pocket at all for brief checks and if you need it for a dog-related reason (like help in an emergency) when walking your dog.
However, the reality for most of us is somewhere in the middle, juggling our phones and our dog for at least part of their walks, particularly the dog’s off-lead time.
Setting aside for a moment the fact you should be concentrating on your dog and not your phone when walking them, there are also a huge range of ways in which today’s smart phones can help to improve your safety on dog walks, make your walks more effective to keep you both fit, and even help you to train and manage your dog too!
This article will tell you about some functions and apps you might want to use or get for your phone to improve your dog walks and help to keep you and your dog safe in an emergency. Read on to learn more.
Google maps and a whole host of other mapping and navigation apps can help you to both plot a route and find good areas to take your dog for a walk, and enable you to find your way if you get lost or need to pick an alternative route for some reason.
Apps like MapMyWalk and a whole host of alternatives can allow you to log the route you walked with your dog, and check back to see how far you went, allow you to find it again if you were out exploring, and even share and view routes with others to enable you and your dog to explore new places.
If you use a fitness wearable, the phone app that you use with this can help to show you how much energy you expend walking your dog, and for more high-tech devices, even things like your heart rate when walking and how to make your walks more effective.
If you’re out walking your dog off the beaten track or even across well-known footpaths, canal towpaths or other off-road routes, you might know exactly how to get home; but if you needed someone to get to you, how would you explain it without a postcode or road name?
This is particularly important in an emergency if you needed someone to come and help you and your dog, or to call an ambulance.
An app called What3Words is designed for this exact purpose. It pinpoints your exact location using your phone’s GPS, and turns this into a three-word code you can share with others – including the emergency services, who often ask people to install it to help with locating them – to help others to find and reach you quickly, even if you don’t know where you are or aren’t even on a road at all.
If you can’t use the phone for calls or your phone isn’t getting a good enough signal to let you contact 999, there is an alternative – texting them. This will mean if you get signal for just a few seconds, a text will send even if you could not get through on a call. However, you must register your phone on the service in advance, by sending the message “REGISTER” to 999, and following the directions given.
You can enable GPS tracking on your phone and give others permission to see your location, which is a great security feature in case you get lost or hurt and cannot summon help. Let someone you trust know your plans and how to follow your route or find you on GPS in case of emergency.
You can download any one of many weather apps for your phone to enable you to ensure you won’t get caught out when walking your dog, and also to look out for changes coming up to tell you when to turn for home!
There are loads of apps designed to provide bite-sized training sessions and direct instruction for owners looking to train their dogs or refresh their skills on their walks, many of which are designed to be used on the go.
Finally, all smartphones have a torch, and while they can run down your battery overly fast, this is very useful in the case of an emergency like finding yourself and your dog caught out after dark, or walking in suddenly bleak weather so bad that others might not see you.
The torch can also be a great help if you’re walking through woods or your dog is digging around burrows, to spot where they are!
If you’re using your phone’s torch as a way of seeing where you’re going and allowing other road users to see you and your dog due to getting caught out in the dark, angle it away from the traffic so you don’t dazzle drivers.
Also, ensure you can carry it safely without either dropping it or being unable to control your dog properly if they lunged at something or did something unexpected.