A dog walk is so much more than simply getting from point A to point B. It is a time where we can strengthen the bond with our dog, explore the great outdoors and get some fresh air and sunshine.
Did you know, walking with your pet rather than by yourself has been scientifically proven to lower your stress levels? So, it won’t just be your dog benefitting from the interaction.
If you walk the same route day in and day out, both you and your dog are sure to get bored quickly. Variety is the spice of life when it comes to dog walks and you should be using them as an opportunity to explore your local area.
Local greens, parks, beaches and hike routes are all there for you and your dog to enjoy together. If unsure where to start, most Local Facebook Groups will have suggestions, or you can ask the dog walkers you meet.
We can use walks as an opportunity to get in some training sessions. It can be harder for your dog to focus and pay attention to you when surrounded by outdoor distractions. You may find you need some high value treats, such as Pooch & Mutt’s Meaty Treats, to keep your dog focused.
Depending on your aims, you may wish to work on recall, or perhaps some command training. Remember that learning new things outside will usually take longer, especially for distractable breeds like Spaniels and Sighthounds.
Owners often tell me how frustrated they are when they want to go for a walk but all their dog does is sniff. While I appreciate the frustration, it is a wonderful thing when your dog is relaxed enough to sniff outside. They will be picking up on the complex aroma of plants, wildlife and all the dogs that have gone before them. This is a vital source of mental enrichment.
We can encourage sniffing by scatter feeding with dry treats such as Pooch & Mutt’s Mini Bone Dog Treats. Just be sure to scatter the treats in a safe area free from nettles, toxic plants, plastic or glass.
What would happen if you let your dog set the pace and choose the route? While we may not want to try doing this during your dog’s early morning walk before you have to get to work, it can be fun to let your dog control the walk when you have time to spare.
Most dogs will happily accept it when we lead the way but it can be nice for them to choose the route now and then. While some dogs stay close to home and tend to circle back quickly, your dog may just surprise you with where they choose to go.
All too often we look upon dog walking as a chore that needs to get done. Certainly, when it’s wet and dark, it’s hard to believe differently. However, watching your dog trot along confidently with their tail wagging is a real sight to be savoured.
You may have had a hectic Christmas or perhaps you’ve been working harder than usual. Take this time to unplug and take a break. Share your dog’s joy at being outdoors; giving them a pat and cuddle. Walk time is a great opportunity to build your connection further, as you both admire the nature around you.