Lisa Vesty believes walking her two cocker spaniels on her Vita S has improved her mental health and wellbeing. Reflecting on her own experience, here she shares her tips for an enjoyable and safe time together when on a mobility scooter.
Choose the right lead
Getting the right lead for you is important when walking a dog with a mobility scooter. You need to make sure you can control both your dog and scooter safely. After lots of research, I found that you can buy double-ended leads with D-rings which really help. They can be threaded through your scooter seat while providing enough slack for dogs to walk at a safe distance from scooter wheels.
My recommended dog leads are:
Train from day one
It really helps to train your dog before going on walks with a mobility scooter. They need to be familiar with your scooter’s movement, so they are not apprehensive when walking alongside it and react in the right way. With the right awareness, walks are more relaxing and everyone is safer. My tips for training are:
- If you are taking on a new puppy, try walking them slowly next to your scooter as soon as they are allowed outside. Attach a suitable lead and drive around slowly in your garden if you have one.
- Play fun games on the scooter so they get familiar with it. Encourage them to explore on and around the scooter with treats.
- If you are planning to let your dog off lead where safe, you need to work on a solid recall. If you’re on a scooter you may not be able to access all areas which could be a problem if your dog won’t come back. Whistle train or use a single word that is only used for recall – the earlier you start working on this the better.
All these things helped me particularly when my two were puppies as it made them confident and well behaved around my scooter. They also knew they had a safe space on the foot plate which we still use today if the pavement is too narrow or we have to give way to people. I’ve also trained them to put their paws up on my scooter so it’s easier for me to clip and unclip their leads.
The bond and relationship you have with your dog is so incredibly special, the stronger your bond the more responsive they are to you. It was important for me to be more interesting than the environment so they were well behaved – which can be challenging when you have a disability. I was relatively static due to my condition, unable to play hide-and-seek games or move in an energized way which they needed. However, having a mobility scooter has changed all that which I have combined with the right dog toys – entertaining products that I find easy to use with restricted mobility. Here are my recommended dog toys to help with walkies when on a scooter:
I think these toys are the best for walks and training when you’re on a scooter. They have a wide range of products that tap into a dog’s natural instincts. They also supply tugs with balls attached which I find easier to swing and throw at short distances.
- Sportspet balls
We all love these bouncy balls. I struggle to throw balls but the Sportspet ball is great as it has an incredible bounce, so I don’t have to throw it hard. They float and are durable.
Tips for safe scooter driving with your dog
When you feel the time is right, go and enjoy your first walk together. It’s always best to start with shorter distances first and routes that are simple to navigate with less traffic. It’s all about you and your dog enjoying a relaxing and fun time together so only drive where you feel comfortable. Here are a few tips to help as you start to explore:
- Always aim to drive as straight as possible and only turn steadily, never suddenly. Watch your speed and always check it’s comfortable for your dog or dogs.
- The safety of you and your dog is always most important. I would advise if you are new to exploring more off-road routes, you do this with somebody else in the beginning, so you can get use to how your scooter handles. This way you only have to concentrate on being in control of the scooter whilst the dogs are walked by somebody else.
- Take your RADAR key out with you. You will be able to unlock the RADAR gates to access public spaces or footpaths. I find once I’ve unlocked the gate, it’s easier to push the gate open with my foot and I ask the dogs to drop behind me so we can get through safely. I then just let the gate swing shut and reverse to lock it again.
- When it’s dark or the light is not so good, make sure your dogs can be seen as well as you. TGA scooters have fantastic bright LED lights however I always make sure Tyler and Maya have collar lights on as well. My Vita has the added bonus of sidelights for extra safety crossing roads.
- During the winter months always be mindful of the routes you do; you don’t want to get stuck on boggy ground. My Vita can cope with most muddy tracks but always best to be sensible.
- As the majority of walks I do, I do solo with my dogs, I always make sure I have my mobile phone with me, fully charged. It has the What3words app just in case of emergencies.
- I always take water with us and carry a small canine first aid kit.
- When we return home, I fully sanitize my dog leads, hands and wash my scooter – just to be sure regarding Covid-19, plus we’re then all set for our next adventure!
I do hope these hints and tips will give you the confidence to go and enjoy dog walking on a mobility scooter. Dog walking is still permitted so please make the most of it sensibly.
Tyler, Maya and I will continue to be out every morning and enjoying the more rural and isolated public footpaths nearby – across fields and bridal ways. This means we all get to enjoy our walk whilst keeping away from people. Absolute bliss and a little bit of stress-free head space which is so important right now.