Many dogs love their regular walks. As soon as they see you bring the leash out, they’re full of energy. But sometimes, your dog is less enthusiastic about walking and would rather stay curled up in its favorite spot. And after a short distance, your dog yawns, plants and does not want to go any further. What can you do to help your dog get the exercise it needs and enjoy it?
Rule Out Physical Issues First
The reason why your dog may seem uninterested in walking could be physical. It could be arthritis or another health condition that makes a long energetic walk unpleasant. Some large breed dogs, dogs with heavy coats, senior dogs, and dogs that have short, flat faces (boxers, pugs, bulldogs, for example) have less stamina, especially in the heat of the summer. Try to determine if the issue with your dog is physical or health-related, and respect your dog’s limitations. Keep the walks slow and short.
Tips To Keep Your Dog Engaged During Your Walk
If you have a dog that needs a little extra stimulus occasionally to keep moving, there are some easy things you can do.
Keeping Dog Walking Exciting By Incorporating Some Play Time
After your dog has done its business or after a short distance, make the walk exciting by engaging your dog in some play. Have a toy to play tug with, or a ball for the dog to chase. If you do this regularly, your dog will associate the walk with some playtime with you, and begin to look forward to it.
Go A New Route
Sometimes, your dog needs a change of scenery. Dogs love to explore new places and discover new scents. If your dog perks up when you change the route, you know that your dog needs more stimulus to keep it engaged on the walk. Try changing the route regularly and your dog will always be excited about the walk.
Practice Commands While Walking Your Dog
After you have walked enough of a distance that your dog has burned off some initial exuberance, you can incorporate some training. Do not try to work on training before your dog has been able to use the first few minutes of the walk exploring, sniffing the ground, and burning off some excitement. Once you sense your dog is able to focus on walking, begin working on some basic commands. Ask your dog to do things it already knows how to do such as sit, stay, come, heel, and so forth. Your dog will enjoy the mental stimulation and opportunity to interact with you. Also, it is good reinforcement training for your dog to practice commands in unusual locations. To make this practice successful, limit your training sessions to no more than 15 minutes.
Bring Treats Along
It is always a good idea to bring treats with you during your walk. Not only will it encourage your dog to keep its focus on you, but the treats will also help you regain control of your dog if it gets distracted by strange dogs, people or other things going on around you. When your dog does something good during your impromptu training session, be sure to reward it with treats.
Some dogs are more motivated by a toy or a ball than treats. If your dog is like that, by all means, bring a toy and use it to keep your dog engaged. You may have a dog that one day works for treats and the next works for toys. In that case, you should bring treats and a toy!
Change Up The Pace When Walking Your Dog
When you begin your walk, use the first five or ten minutes letting your dog burn off the excitement of going on the walk. That means letting your dog explore, stop often to sniff the ground, and pee or poop. Your dog needs to do that or its own mental health. Once your dog has had that time and has burned off the initial burst of energy, it is time to focus on walking.
The best way to do that is to be aware of the pace of the walk. Start off at a moderate pace. Many dog owners simply walk too slowly. By increasing the pace, your dog will not have the chance to linger and become bored and easily distracted. Once your dog is trotting along beside you, slow the pace down and let the dog explore a bit. Then speed up again. Keep your dog guessing.
Walk With A Friend And/or Another Dog
Your dog is a pack animal. Walking with others, and another dog if possible, will energize your dog and motivate it during the walk.
Contact The Dog Walking Team At Paw Pals
Regular walks are important to your dog’s mental and physical health. If you are having trouble keeping your dog engaged and interested in your walk, get help from the dog walking team at Paw Pals. Their experienced dog walkers know how to keep your dog stimulated on its walks, and they know the signs to look for if the issue is a health-related or physical one. Contact us for more information.