Social distancing and walking your dog

Social distancing and walking your dog

Health & Safety

Covid 19 coronavirus is having a huge impact on how we live our day-to-day lives already, and we’re only at the very beginning of a pandemic that is set to become ever-more acute as the weeks and months pass.

The government and healthcare workers are concerned that the rapid spread of Covid 19 through the population will place such as strain on the NHS that it will buckle, and be unable to offer the appropriate healthcare that everyone who becomes seriously ill with Covid 19 are likely to need if a large number of the population become ill at the same time.

This means that slowing the spread of Covid 19 through the population is essential to ensure that the maximum number of people who become ill with it can get the treatment they need; as slowing the spread of Covid 19 will mean a more even distribution of cases over time, rather than an acute impact on available resources all in one go.

With this in mind, the government is advising all people who have, may have, or live with someone who has or may have Covid 19 coronavirus to self-isolate; and for the rest of the population to practice social distancing.

If you own a dog, your dog will still need to be walked during this time, and knowing how to walk your dog and practice social distancing can be confusing.

This article will share some advice and direction on dog walking and social distancing. Read on to learn more.

What is social distancing?

First of all, what is social distancing, why is it important, and how might it have an impact on the way we’d normally walk our dogs? Here are the key facts.

Social distancing is practicing a range of behaviours and placing measures in place to greatly limit and reduce contact with other people, and how closely we come into contact with others. You will probably have seen it in action already if you’ve been going shopping – such as shop signs asking people to stay two metres apart at the checkouts, and some stores accepting card payments only to reduce hand-to-hand contact between staff and customers.

Social distancing involves avoiding being in close proximity with others, such as by avoiding the use of public transport, avoiding crowded places, and if possible, working from home.

When it comes to going out in public when this is unavoidable (such as to shop or walk your dog) it means keeping a distance from others and giving other people space (two metres of separation is advised) practicing good hygiene with frequent hand washing and sanitizing, and generally being proactive about avoiding passing others at close quarters.

How to walk your dog and practice social distancing

So, how can you walk your dog and practice social distancing? Whether or not you can put all of the below tips into action may depend on where you live and other limitations, but here are our suggestions on dog walking and social distancing successfully.

  • Avoid walking your dog at times when you know the parks and streets will be busy. This is not as obvious as it may be these days since many workplaces are closed and people’s routines are changing, so monitor things and action this where possible.
  • Try in particular to avoid popular dog walking spots at times when they will be busy.
  • If your dog is apt to bolt off or has unreliable recall, keep them on a lead. Trying to find your dog or recover him if someone else finds him would involve potentially a lot of contact with other people, which is best avoided.
  • When passing people on the streets or in parks, try to keep two metres apart at all times.
  • Don’t sit and share benches in close quarters with other people.
  • Don’t pet other people’s dogs, nor encourage other people to pet yours.
  • Try not to touch your face when you’re out.
  • Carry some hand sanitiser with you and use it if you have contact with anyone else or their pet, and ideally, after touching things like park gates.
  • Always wash your hands thoroughly in hot, soapy water when you get back from your walk before you do anything else.
  • Consider washing or using sanitizer on your dog’s collar and lead when you bring them back in from their walk, and if they have been in contact with other people, use pet-safe wipes to wipe their coats over too.
  • Don’t use public transport to get to and from walking places and parks unless this is unavoidable.
  • If you drive, consider driving your dog to places you may be able to walk them without coming into contact with as many other people as you might face locally.
  • Finally, if you’re showing any symptoms of Covid 19 coronavirus or suspect you might have been exposed to someone who is, self-isolate and don’t take your dog out yourself; arrange for someone else to walk them for you.


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