Dogs Dog Walks

Published on December 29th, 2017 | by Debbie Martin


Oh No! What to do when dog walks go wrong

Dog walks are an essential part of owning a dog, dogs love their daily walks and having a chance to explore and stretch their legs but walks aren’t without their dangers. Do you know what to do when the worst happens to your dog? In this article we will take a look at three of the most common walking emergencies and offer some tips on how to deal with them.

Running off

puppy off leadIf you know that your dog has poor recall you won’t let him off the lead until he has mastered coming back when called. But even dogs which can be trusted to return sometimes don’t and if you don’t handle the situation properly you can make things worse.


Knowing why your dog ran off can help you to work out what he may have done next. If he started chasing a rabbit or other animal he could have got lost, not paying attention to where it was leading him in the heat of the chase. Thunderstorms and sudden loud noises like gunshots can also cause your dog to bolt in fear. It may be harder to find him if he is hiding than if he is actively searching for a way home.

First Steps

Don’t panic. Most dogs that run off find their way back to you or home. Retrace your steps and call for him trying not to sound worried or anxious – especially if your dog might be scared as he may be less inclined to respond if he thinks you are too. Keep you eyes peeled for anywhere he might be hiding – holes in the ground such as badger setts can be tempting or he may have pushed his way into thick bushes. If you meet any other dog walkers you can ask them to keep an eye out – if you can carry a recent photograph of your dog it will come in very useful in situations like these.

Casting The Net Wider

If you have to come home empty handed then get onto social media and post a photograph of your dog along with the time and location of his disappearance. This is the modern version of printing out notices. Call local vets and the dog warden – he may have been rescued by someone while you were looking for him. Make sure that your microchip details are kept up to date when you move house or change phones in case they ever need to contact you.

Keep Looking

Return to the same location frequently to see if you can see any signs of him. You can try leaving an old piece of clothing or bedding if appropiate to give your dog something to target if he is looking for you.


Dogs love to explore and sooner or later they will manage to hurt themselves. Most of the time it will be a minor scratch which will heal itself but sometimes they manage to step on something nasty.

Is It Bleeding?

If blood is visible your first priority is to stop the bleeding. Apply pressure to the wound – using further layers if it is bleeding profusly – until the bleeding stops. If there is something in the wound you will need to bandage round the object so you don’t push it further in and take your dog to the vets to have it removed safely.

If there is little or no blood then wash the paw and, if possible,bandage it to keep it clean. If your dog is small enough you could consider carrying him back home or to the car to avoid further damage. If the wound looks deep it will need to be examined by a vet to ensure it is properly clean and hasn’t damaged anything inside. Modern smartphones often have the ability to act as magnifying glasses – if you’ve installed the app in advance – to make checking for splinters and thorns easier.

Speed Is Of The Essence

If you think your dog will need stitches – or if there is something in the wound – then try to get your dog seen by a vet within four hours to maximise the chances that they will make a full recovery. Until the vet has assessed your dog you should avoid feeding him in case a general anaesthetic is required. If the vet prescribes antibiotics it is essential that you finish the course. Ask for advice on how best to administer them to your dog.

Hot Weather

It’s a well-known fact that dogs don’t sweat but do you know how quickly a dog can succumb to heat stroke? Actual times are dependant on the ambient temperature and factors such as how thick your dog’s coat is but heat stroke can occur very quickly and should always be considered a veterinary emergency.

Signs that your dog is feeling the heat include panting and if he is beginning to suffer from heat stroke he may pant excessively and show signs of weakness or even collapse. His gums may be bluish or bright pink and he may shake or twitch.

First Aid

If you notice these signs stop exercise immediately and take steps to cool your dog down. Move him into the shade and fan him with whatever you can to promote cooling. If you have access to running water you can allow some to run over his least hairy parts and offer him frequent drinks of water (tepid not cold to avoid shock). Obtain veterinary advice as quickly as possible, explaining the situation so that the vet can be prepared for your arrival.

Prevention Is Better Than Cure

It’s always best to avoid exercising dogs in the hottest part of the day – especially if your dog is old, infirm or a puppy. Try to choose shady routes and always take a bottle of water on walks with you – you can get special dog drinkers that combine a water bottle and bowl or you can take a small bowl to pour some water into.

Now you know how to deal with a dog emergency, you’ll probably never need to – but at least if the unexpected does happen, you’ll be able to take the right course of action.

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About the Author

Debbie has worked for Beeston Animal Health for a number of years and although generally involved with the marketing these days she has a great deal of knowledge on many things to do with small animals.

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