Do you and your dog take a regular walk together? Maybe you start your day with a jaunt around the blockor end your day with a leisurely stroll around the neighborhood. This is a great routine for your dog, for many reasons. It helps them stay trim and healthy, it improves their obedience, it promotes bonding, it prevents boredom, and so much more. Even if you live in an area where your pets can run freely, a regular walk is still a good idea to keep your dog leash trained.
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We’ve talked before about how to walk your dog properly. If you are following these steps, there’s no doubt that your walk will be successful. Today I’ve just got some tips on how to make the walk more than just “successful”. You’ll be giving your dog the best walk of their life if you follow these additional tips.
1. Stock up on the right equipment for your walk.[easyazon_image align=”right” cart=”n” cloak=”y” height=”250″ identifier=”B078N3JYW1″ locale=”US” localize=”y” nw=”y” nf=”y” src=”https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/510ddukPnYL.jpg” tag=”natur0da-20″ width=”250″]
Dog walking isn’t an activity that needs a ton of special equipment, but it does require some quality tools to make it a comfortable experience for both you and your dog. For example, while your dog can walk on a collar and leash, it is a lot more comfortable for them to walk with a harness on, so they aren’t being tugged around by the neck. Consider a [easyazon_link identifier=”B078N3JYW1″ locale=”US” nw=”y” nf=”y” tag=”natur0da-20″ cart=”n” cloak=”y” localize=”y” popups=”n”]front-clip harness[/easyazon_link] to help prevent pulling without choking your dog. Other important equipment includes ID tags on your dog’s collar, a comfortable pair of walking shoes for you, a leash that is comfortable for you to hold, and sunscreen for both of you!
2. Choose your walk route carefully.
The most obvious place to go for a walk is to take off from your front door and just follow the sidewalk around the neighborhood. But what if you don’t live in a neighborhood? If you don’t live in an area where it’s safe to walk, or you live away from sidewalks and maintained roadways, you may want to consider choosing a spot to drive to for your walks. In this case, consider a place that makes you happy – you’ll be spending your time there, after all. Go for a park with a scenic walkway, or a nature preserve where you have a great view, or any sidewalk path through a part of town that you enjoy.
3. Consider inviting a friend or joining a dog-walking group.[easyazon_image align=”right” cart=”n” cloak=”y” height=”250″ identifier=”B075LMSQ74″ locale=”US” localize=”y” nw=”y” nf=”y” src=”https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51ik3q-oOdL.jpg” tag=”natur0da-20″ width=”250″]
Taking a walk outside is a fun way to bond with your dog – but it can also be a fun way to bond with other people. And your dog might like to hang out with some friends too. If you have a friend with a dog, ask if they want to go walking with you – and if not, check sites like Meetup.com or Facebook to find a dog walking group in the area. It may take a little bit of extra training to teach your dog to walk nicely in a group, but it’s a very good way to combine socialization with walking. You may also find that walking with others gives you a chance to try new walking routes as you accommodate their needs as well. Can’t find a meet up? You can start one, or simply bring the kids or your partner along on your walk to make it a more social affair. You might even consider the challenge of walking other dogs with your dog to give them the benefits of socialization during the walk. Just get yourself a [easyazon_link identifier=”B075LMSQ74″ locale=”US” nw=”y” nf=”y” tag=”natur0da-20″ cart=”n” cloak=”y” localize=”y” popups=”n”]no-tangle leash[/easyazon_link]!
4. Change up your routine to keep it interesting –to an extent.[easyazon_image align=”right” cart=”n” cloak=”y” height=”250″ identifier=”B013J9VEI0″ locale=”US” localize=”y” nw=”y” nf=”y” src=”https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51vT43IyuBL.jpg” tag=”natur0da-20″ width=”250″]
Dogs are creatures of habit, and definitely like to have routines. That being said, their need for routine is more about making sure that they get exercise every day, rather than making sure that they do everything exactly the same every day. To make your walk experience more interesting, try changing up where you walk, or walk a few hours later so you can catch the sunset on your way back home. Consider bringing along a [easyazon_link identifier=”B013J9VEI0″ locale=”US” nw=”y” nf=”y” tag=”natur0da-20″ cart=”n” cloak=”y” localize=”y” popups=”n”]ball[/easyazon_link] and stopping to play fetch half way through, or combining your walk with a dog-friendly errand. Bring along a camera and snap photos of your dog or the view. Anything you can do to change your routine just a bit will make the walks more pleasant for you, because you won’t get bored.
5. Put your walks to good use and train for a charity event.
Did you know that there are many charity walks or runs that allow dogs to participate with their owners? You and your dog can use your walks to train for a run or a charity walk event and help aid shelters or dog fosters in your area. If you don’t have any charity walks for dogs, why not sign up for one yourself, and use your dog walks to train yourself? Your dog will love working with you through a “Couch to 5K” program, even if they don’t get to run in the 5K at the end. These events are almost always family-friendly, with lots of food and fun for kids while adults compete in the walk or run. Just make sure you choose a race that is several months away at least, so you’ve got plenty of time to train. Your dog will help keep you accountable, since they’ll be begging to go on that daily walk or run.
6. Combine your walk with a new trick or command to learn.[easyazon_image align=”right” cart=”n” cloak=”y” height=”250″ identifier=”B003VD8DSO” locale=”US” localize=”y” nw=”y” nf=”y” src=”https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/61NORbzwlmL.jpg” tag=”natur0da-20″ width=”220″]
When you are walking your dog, you already have their attention. They are excited to be out with you, and you are already dedicating the time to be with them. Why not make the most of that and work on a new command while you are out? You can brush up on an old skill, like sitting down when you stop at crosswalks, or try training something new, like checking in with you every few minutes. Take some high-quality [easyazon_link identifier=”B003VD8DSO” locale=”US” nw=”y” nf=”y” tag=”natur0da-20″ cart=”n” cloak=”y” localize=”y” popups=”n”]treats[/easyazon_link], your clicker, or anything else you use for training, and make the walk mentally stimulating as well as physically stimulating. You may want to choose a quiet route for this, unless the command specifically relies on a busy environment (such as teaching your dog to follow a specific behavior pattern when there is traffic, for example).
7. Consider walking to a far-off destination and getting a ride back home.
Let’s face it, no matter how much you change it up, you’ll eventually fall into a pattern of walking the same routes every day. Walking loops, to a spot and then back home, or around in circles, can get extremely boring after a while. So why not try walking in one direction for a long time, and then getting a ride back home? You can try walking out to a park or beach where you’d normally drive to, and while you chill out and play, your spouse or friend can come hang out as well and then drive you back home. This is a fun way to break up your routine occasionally, especially if you time it so that you are also meeting up with someone for a special day with them as well.
8. Don’t be afraid to experiment with the time of your walk as it suits your schedule.[easyazon_image align=”right” cart=”n” cloak=”y” height=”250″ identifier=”B0791C7FPM” locale=”US” localize=”y” nw=”y” nf=”y” src=”https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/61eFxLrkjqL.jpg” tag=”natur0da-20″ width=”250″]
So many people walk their dogs at night after dinner, or first thing in the morning, because they think that they must get that walk done around a “normal” schedule. But honestly, your dog doesn’t care when you walk them – they just want to walk. You can do this whenever it works for your schedule. Is it easier for you to go home and walk your dog on your lunch break? Or to take a walk right after work and have a bit of a later dinner? Is it easier to get up at the crack of dawn and take sunrise walks? Try a little bit of everything until you find the time that works, and then stick with it as much as you can. Don’t forget to wear safety clothing and get your dog a [easyazon_link identifier=”B0791C7FPM” locale=”US” nw=”y” nf=”y” tag=”natur0da-20″ cart=”n” cloak=”y” localize=”y” popups=”n”]reflective collar[/easyazon_link] if you plan to walk in darker hours.
9. Consider keeping a journal or some sort of record of your walks.
People used to scrapbook back in the day, but now most people record their favorite memories on Instagram or other social media. Regardless of what you like to do, consider recording your favorite memories somewhere. Journal about your dog walks, make a Twitter account about things you saw on your dog walks, take photos for a dog walking Instagram, blog about your dog walking adventures, or whatever floats your boat. You’ll end up with a great collection of memories that will be very treasured as your dog gets older. You’ll also end up with a cool record of part of your life that doesn’t often get remembered or shared with others. It’s one of the reasons I started submitting to this blog myself!
A Few Notes on Fixing Walking Behavior
There are many common dog behaviors that make walks a bit harder. If your dog tends to pull at the leash, lunge at people or other dogs, chase squirrels, or try to bound out the door before you can get a grasp on their leash, you may find that these tips for having the best walk are pretty useless.
- If your dog tends to try to bound right out the door, don’t even open the door until your dog sits. Teach him that you won’t be going anywhere until he sits and waits for the release command. You can also try to “bore” your dog into calming down by leading him outside, then going right back inside, and doing this over and over till they stop the “bounding” behavior.
- If your dog tends to lunge, the best thing to do is to use a treat to distract them from the passerby or other dog. Not only will this distract them while you get by the issue, it also teaches your dog to check in with you for a treat whenever they see someone or another dog.
- If your dog tends to pull at the leash, the best training method that I’ve ever found is to stop moving until they stop pulling. Don’t move until your dog is walking beside you correctly. This could mean that your walk doesn’t get but a block down the road, since you spent your entire hour just stopping and waiting. Don’t back down – your dog will learn eventually.
- If your dog tends to chase after squirrels, cars, cats, or rabbits, work on teaching your dog the Leave It command. You can do this at home with toys or food, and then use the same command to get them to leave the fascinating distraction alone.
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The Final Word
Walking my dogs is one of my favorite ways to bond with them, simply because it’s good for all of us, and it’s pretty easy. So long as you are physically able to walk and control your dog, you can pretty much do this anytime, anywhere. If you don’t mind the smell of wet dog, you can even pop on your rain coat or grab an umbrella if the weather isn’t cooperating. Walking is also one of the best ways to prevent dogs from getting bored and destructive. If I had to suggest one thing to add to your routine for new dog owners, it would absolutely be a daily walk.
And like I’ve pointed out here, walks don’t have to be boring. There are many things you can do to make them more interesting, so you and your dog can have the best walk ever. Take your favorite suggestions from this list and try them out with your pet – and if you do start that social media account or blog, link it down below so I can check out your walking stories!