The same old walk around the block can get boring not just for us, but also for our dogs. There are a few different things you can do to make a walk more exciting for your dog, and more productive for you. First things first, leave your phone at home and make sure you bring plenty of treats and bags. Dog walks can be mindless, but it should be a time that you use to connect and bond with your dog.
Change Your Routine Up
1. The easiest way to make dog walks more exciting is to change up the route. Map out different destinations in your neighborhood or trails. Let the dog constantly guess where you might take them next. You could even take a short car ride to a hike with new terrain. Different elevations also build different muscles for you and your dog. Don’t forget that a healthy, tired dog leads to less behavioral issues in the house.
Train On Your Walks
2. Always strive to improve your dog during the walk, but do not overwhelm them with training. If your dog is new to walks, start with loose-leash training during these times. You want to make sure you teach them the basics first to prevent any injuries you could get from a pulling dog. A dog that pays attention to you and not to other distractions will also be more enjoyable to walk. A training plan can be created for every other walk or just five minutes of the dog walk, but it is a great opportunity to teach them a thing or two. Make sure you are using positive reinforcement to train during walks as well.
Dog Walks Should Be An Enriching Experience
3. Let your dog stop to smell the flowers. Sniffing is enrichment and a huge part of a dog’s life. It may seem tedious to have to stop and wait for your dog to smell each scent but make sure you let them smell during at least part of the walk because this is a way dogs process information. It is like asking a bodybuilder to no longer work out. It is part of their lifestyle and something that they live for, so we as humans have to be more understanding.
Let Others Join In On The Walks
4. Invite a friend on your dog walks. This could be a neighbor or a friend and their dog that may want to catch up! Socializing your dog with people and/or dogs at the same time as your walk time is even more enriching. It also makes your time more enjoyable to have someone to talk to. This person could even take you on a better route than you and your dog are used to. Never be afraid to reach out and ask someone to join you for a walk: it is the simplest way to make a friend for you and your dog.
Get Healthy With Your Dog
5. Set a goal for a certain amount of steps or miles per week. If you are goal-driven, scheduling expectations may be the best way to get what you want out of dog walks. Consider how far your dog is capable of walking and go from there. Program your Fitbit or other tracking device and reward yourself and your dog at the end of every week with a healthy snack or toy. Dog walks enhance your fitness as well as your dogs. You can get healthy and stay healthy together!
Meet New Dogs
6. To avoid any issues with other dogs during walks, approach each new dog correctly and ask if they are friendly. Before you let them sniff each other, it is very important to know what you are getting yourself into. You could even find a new playmate for your dog, so eventually, you could start incorporating playdates instead of walks on certain days, like snow days.
Follow Your Dog’s Lead
7. Lastly, let your dog walk you. Save one walk during the week just for your dog to show you where to go, obviously within reason. Keep him or her safe and try to go at their pace to follow where they want to go. This is why loose-leash training is important because they should already know what your pace is. Do not let them hurt your upper body, but don’t be afraid to jog a little bit either!
Dog walks are overall very important for every dog, regardless of their breed or size. Whether you have a Great Dane or a Chihuahua, a walk once a day should be the minimum. Some people use walks to relieve their dogs; others use them to exercise their dogs. Either way, your dog is getting outside, enjoying the fresh air, and exploring the world around them. Your dog is just waiting for you to say that “W” word, so if you say it, make sure you mean it!