Walking your dog may seem like a simple task but it is one of the most important ways you can keep your dog both mentally and physically fit.
So whether you’re a first-time dog owner looking to digest everything you need to know or a long-time dog lover that wants only the best for their pooch, please consider reading on.
What Makes A Good Walk
When talking about walks, we are not referring to the 5-minute stroll you take so that your dog can relieve themselves.
For a walk to be beneficial, it needs to encourage physical output for your dog and so it must be of some length. A walk must also involve some level of mental stimulation for your dog by either letting them explore or adding a few training sessions along the way.
With these in mind, it is important to allot time for your walks in order for your dog to get the most out of the activity.
Gear Up For Your Walk
Dog Leash - A leash, preferably a short one, is the most important item for a walk as it provides you with more control allowing you to easily guide, communicate, and correct your dog. It also prevents them from wandering too far which is important if your route includes a heavily used path.
Harness - While collars can work on disciplined dogs, most pooches will pull on your leash more times than you can count so experts recommend getting a comfortable harness to prevent choking caused by an over-eager canine.
Dog Water Bottle - Taking your dog on long, brisk walks means they will use up plenty of fluids. If your route has no easy access to clean water, bringing a bottle with its own built-in drinking tray is a must.
Poop Bags - Dogs often time their potty breaks during walks so expect them to poop during its duration. Bringing a poop bag or two lets you deal with the messy situation, saving someone else the trouble of picking up your dog’s number 2.
Treats - Walks are a great opportunity to train your dog so don’t forget to bring some of their favorite treats so you can easily reward their good behavior while also giving them an incentive to behave.
Create The Perfect Dog Walk Routine
Plan Your Route - Walks should provide both physical and mental stimulation for your dog so make sure that your chosen path allows for a brisk pace but also ample spots where they can rest and explore.
Dogs are also easily distracted so steer clear of areas with heavy activity or a large concentration of small animals as these can substantially slow down your walks.
Be The Leader - While it’s easy to let your dog lead, it can potentially degrade your reputation as the pack alpha in their eyes. To prevent this, make sure to show that you are in control by walking up front for the majority of the stroll.
Taking the lead should also continue after the conclusion of your walk. Once you arrive home, have your dog wait patiently as you remove their leash and put away your shoes before letting them into the house.
Let Them Use Their Nose - Dogs love to use their nose and letting them sniff around for brief intervals during the walk allows them to calm down and catch their breath. The act also expends energy further thus decreasing the chances of them exhibiting destructive or naughty behaviors at home.
Sniffing is also one of the ways dogs communicate and locating the scent of other dogs that have gone through the area can be an exciting prospect for them.
Include Training Sessions - Walks are a great opportunity for basic obedience training which can be done by including small challenges along the way such as playing a few games of fetch or simply having them wait at a road crossing.
You can also train your dog’s nose by upgrading their simple sniffing sessions into a foraging exercise by hiding treats or kibble on the ground and letting them search for it. This helps keep the walk fun and interesting and lets you build a stronger bond with your dog.
Socialize - By taking longer walks, you will inevitably meet other dogs and dog-owners. Take this as an opportunity for your dog to experience positive interaction provided, of course, that the other party allows it.
If you live in an area where randomly meeting other dog owners is a rare occurrence, you can opt to join local dog-walking groups in order to facilitate some dog socialization time.
Cool Down and Rehydrate - This goes for both you and your dog. Walking long distances can be tiring and so depending on the distance, taking breaks and rehydrating should be an essential part of the experience.
By letting your dog rest, drink, and eat at the conclusion of the walk or after a set distance, you also teach them to “work” for their food.
Switch It Up - Dogs are also prone to getting bored to don’t forget to add variety to your walks by going to different locations, preferably those that offer a wide range of terrains like the beach or a trail.
If you live in the city, consider mixing up the drab asphalt with the green grasses of the local park or the stone pavement of a shopping district. By regularly changing locales, your pet also learns to keep calm and be at ease in all situations.
Now that you know everything you need for the perfect walk, it’s time to head out of the house and experience the outdoors.