The importance of taking your dog for a walk regularly makes sense when you consider that your dog’s ancient ancestors were constantly on the move in the wild. Once domesticated, dogs worked alongside their human partners in herding livestock and hunting for food. In short, your dog is hard-wired to be very active every day.
That is why one of the best things you can do for your dog is to take it out for a long walk at least once a day. Twice a day is even better. Your dog benefits from physical exercise and the mental stimulation it gets from exploring its surroundings. A walk provides all of that plus a chance to spend some quality time with you.
Ways To Make Your Dog Walks More Engaging
If your walks have become just ho-hum, it’s time to make the walks more fun for both of you. Here are four ideas that may make the walks more interesting for both of you:
Change Your Usual Routine and Add Variety
Changing your usual routine will invigorate your dog. You can change your routine easily. Even if you do not change your route, you can change things up by going a different direction than you normally go. For example, if you always start your walk around the block by turning left at the end of your driveway, next time turn right.
Just going the other way will excite your dog because it is a sudden and unexpected deviation from what your dog is accustomed to. Add more variety by changing your pace every five minutes or so by speeding up or slowing down, and ask your dog to adjust.
You can really change things up by taking an entirely different route. Instead of going around the block you live on, walk around a different block. Or you can really switch things up by going to a nearby dog-friendly park and walking the trails there.
You can take things up a notch and add in a stop for lunch or dinner at a dog-friendly restaurant. If you change things up a couple of times each week, your dog will have burned up a lot of energy and likely will be ready for a nice long rest when it gets home.
Incorporate Some Obedience Training
Once the initial excitement of a walk has worn off and your dog has had ten or fifteen minutes to settle into the walk, stop and work on obedience training. Whether your dog already knows basic obedience commands or is still learning, incorporate five or ten minutes of it during the walk.
Having to concentrate and focus for a few minutes will provide additional mental stimulation for your dog. Also, you may discover that your usually well-behaved dog finds it more challenging to respond appropriately in an environment where there are a lot of distractions. Be sure to have treats on hand to help you keep your dog’s attention and reward it for doing a good job.
Incorporate Some Play Time
Take one of your dog’s toys with you. After you have walked for twenty or thirty minutes, take some time to play with your dog. Play time in the middle of a walk will further strengthen the bond between you and let your dog burn off more energy. Play time also requires your dog to use some obedience skills, too, so you get multiple benefits from it.
Go with a Friend
A great way to further enhance your dog’s socialization experience during a walk is to walk with a friend. If your friend has a dog to walk, too, it’s even more exciting for your dog. However, it is always your responsibility to make sure your dog behaves properly while in the company of another human and another dog.
Walking with a strange dog can be particularly challenging if your dog has not met your friend’s dog before. If that is the case, be sure to give the dogs a few minutes to meet each other and get the initial sniffing and greeting out of the way before you expect them to walk calmly on a leash.
You will need to monitor the dogs’ reactions and interactions to make sure they will get along with each other. If they do get along, be sure to monitor them along the walk to make sure there are no arguments over the array of interesting things they discover as you walk. Be cautious if you encounter other strange dogs during the walk and be ready to respond at the first sign of aggression.
Get Help from the Dog Walking Professionals at Paw Pals
If your schedule prevents you from giving your dog the daily walks it needs, get help from the professional dog walkers at Paw Pals. They are available to walk your dog on a regular schedule or any time that you cannot. They are experienced in handling and walking dogs of all ages and breeds. Contact them for more information about their dog walking and pet sitting services.