You could be forgiven for thinking that walking a dog is an easy accomplishment. With some dogs, it’s a pleasurable experience, yet for other dog owners, it’s something they tolerate for the sake of their pets.
Here are a few suggestions for a stress free, enjoyable walking routine, for both you and your dog.
Practice some off the lead walking
Choose a safe area where your dog can safely run off the lead, obviously never when next to a road. This short session requires a great deal of self-discipline and concentration, so try to make them as stimulating as possible, with lots of changes of direction and speed. Take along some dog treats or one of his favourite toys as a motivation aid and treat it not only as an obedience exercise, but also as a game, and both you and your dog will have some fun, allowing him to walk alongside you.
Alternate your route
Take a look at a map of your local region, and locate some places you have never visited or explored yet. Venture to a new area, and enjoy some different scenery. Do you normally walk fairly quickly, or at a leisurely pace? Switch gears, speed up your pace and intensity, or slow down and take in the scenery. If you walk in the park, try introducing a change of direction, or turn in a large circle. Try alternating the hand that you hold the lead in, which may feel strange at first, but persevere and reward the dog with a treat after a while.
Pulling on the lead
A walk is much more enjoyable and less frustrating if your dog will walk effectively on the lead beside you. A tight, pulling lead means more stress for both you and your dog. If you struggle to stay in control, an aid like a head-collar may help the situation, but remember they are only intended to act as a training aid and not for permanent use.
Take a toy
Don’t always allow your dog to run around to his own devices, off the lead, sniffing everywhere. Spend some time interacting with him, don’t just become the person who takes him to his off-the-lead area and home again. Take along a favourite dog toy and work together with him to play and chase for the toy. Keep playtime short to keep him wanting more, which in turn will encourage him to keep looking out in case the toy appears into play again.
It’s all about the sniffs
There is nothing more enjoyable to a dog than being able to sniff out new scents on his daily walks. Alternate your routes so that he can come across new areas, pathways and bushes. Taking a few sniff breaks will add a lot of sensory and mental stimulation to their walk.
In addition to offering your dog exercise and for toilet duties, a walk is full of occasions for your pet to learn more about the world and develop good behaviour and habits. An inspiring walk will also help to wear out a dog both physically and mentally, which will help to develop improved behaviour patterns for the rest of the day.