7 Reasons Why You Should Stay Off Your Phone When Walking Your Dog

When you are out with your dog, you must pay attention to everything that he is doing. If you spend your time focusing on your phone, you may miss something that will harm your dog – or worse.

When you are out with your dog, you must pay attention to everything that he is doing. If you spend your time focusing on your phone, you may miss something that will harm your dog – or worse. These are 7 reasons why you should stay off your phone when walking your dog, even if he is on a leash:

I am neither a veterinarian nor a medical professional. The information in this article has been researched and sourced at the end of the post if required. All safety and medical issues or questions regarding your pet’s health or symptoms should always be brought to the attention of your veterinarian for clarification, assessment, advice, and treatment.

You May Not Notice Your Dog Pooping and Fail to Clean it Up

While this may not seem like a serious problem, it could land you in a legal mess. In many places, failing to clean up after your dog can result in fines. An extreme scenario would be where your dog leaves a present on the wrong neighbor’s lawn. You could end up with more than a fine. You could be faced with a formal complaint that, if the neighbor is angry enough, results in having to move or forfeit your pet. 

Your Dog May Lunge At or Chase and Harm Another Dog

If you are not tuned in, you may not see another dog in the vicinity. Even the most well trained and disciplined dog can react to another animal without warning. If your dog becomes aggressive, she can do some serious physical harm to another dog. The result of the fight can be two-fold. First, both animals can be seriously injured. While the physical pain these dogs are suffering is very sad, there could be some very large vet bills incurred. On top of that, if a dog is deemed aggressive or viscous, a judge can rule that she has to be put down.

Another Dog, Coyote or Other Animal Might Approach and Attack Your Dog

Border Collie on a leash with a man and dog approaching on a path in a park.
Photo by: M. Shea

Similar to the previous situation, if you are not focused on what is going on around you, your dog could become a victim to another aggressive dog. Not all dogs are on leashes and not all owners are paying attention to what their pets are doing.

In my area, as well as many others, there is a large coyote population. A smaller dog is very vulnerable to a larger canine. If you are alert, you can remove your dog from harm’s way. Your dog may be severely injured or killed by an attacking dog, coyote, or other wild animal common to your area, if you are on your phone.

Children May Run Toward Your Dog, Causing an Aggressive Reaction

If your head is buried in your phone, you may not notice a nearby child. Although many children are afraid of dogs or taught at an early age not to approach a dog without asking, I have been in many situations where a child or group of children is so excited to see my dog that they run toward him squealing with excitement. This can be very scary for any dog, but a dog who is already timid can become very reactive. If he should bite a child, it could cause serious injuries. In this unfortunate situation, the dog will still be legally blamed for harming the child and you could be ordered to put your dog down as he will be deemed a dangerous animal.

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Sniffing Something Dangerous Can Cause Illness

Border Collie sniffing a patch of large green leaves in the park.
Photo by: M. Shea

When your dog’s head is down and sniffing intently on something, you may want to take notice. While letting your dog sniff is important for their mental stimulation, some things can cause illness or pain. If your dog is sniffing another dog’s poop, she could contract a virus or illness that is left in the poop. The same can happen with urine.  

Other surprises are lurking in bushes, flower beds, and grass, including ticks, bees, wasps, and smaller animals like skunks or porcupines. If you are not looking at where your dog’s nose is pointed, it could end up with some painful and harmful results for your pup.

Something Could Get Stuck in Their Paw

It is very common to see someone walking along, surfing on their phone while their doggo is hobbling along on three legs. It is very common for dogs to have painful paw issues while walking. Sharp objects could become lodged in their foot, salt often gets stuck between their toes. Snow or ice buildup between their toes can be very uncomfortable, and a very hot sidewalk is a source of great pain. While you catch up on your social media or answe an email, the source of your dog’s pain goes unnoticed and unaddressed. If the offending item becomes embedded in your dog’s foot, the dog could be in pain for several days before it becomes apparent to you, at which time your dog will require a visit to the vet. 

Walkee Paws, As Seen on Shark Tank

Your Dog Could Eat Something Poisonous

Humans drop things that can make your dog seriously ill or kill them. Sadly, this can be accidental or intentional. There are also things found in nature that are poisonous. If you are distracted by your phone, you are less likely to notice when your dog scoops something up. As a dog walker and a dog owner, I have scooped more things out of dog mouths than you can imagine. The ones that could have been devastating were a big piece of chewed gum that could have contained Xylitol, acorns, a balloon, a chocolate bar, and alcohol-filled vomit. Dogs are very quick to scoop things off of the ground. If I hadn’t been paying attention, these dogs could have become very ill. I have seen many other dangerous things on the ground while walking my doggos, including pills and a bag of drugs. Fortunately, I managed to avoid them.

Vehicle Coming Out of Nowhere

A red car driving on a snow covered road taken from inside another car.
Photo By: M. Shea

When you are walking along a sidewalk, you feel safe from things like traffic. You’re not. Many situations can arise where your dog could be hit by a vehicle if your are not alert and prepared. Cars may be backing out of their driveway in a hurry. Others may not be able to see you in their blind spot.

There are many other scenarios where your pet could be stricken by some type of vehicle. You may be crossing a street where nobody was coming when you first looked but now a car appears out of nowhere. A landscaping or snow removal vehicle that comes around a blind corner could be a disaster. Vehicles that lose control on slippery roads can land up on the sidewalk. While these last few examples are freak accidents, they do happen. Staying alert and aware of your surroundings, gives you a better chance of keeping your dog out of danger.

After reading about these 7 reasons why you should stay off your phone when walking your dog, you should realize that…

Working or playing on your smartphone may seems like a great way to fill time while walking your dog. Truthfully, it is a dangerous distraction. I jokingly say that my phone is an extension of my arm. I run 2 businesses that require my constant attention. While I understand the urge to “just check one thing”, I also understand that doing so can have dire consequences for the dog I am with. I do my best to keep it tucked away until the end of each walk. Once the dog is home and safe, I take a moment to address all of the alerts and updates. I hope you can see why this is an important decision.

Walk safe!

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