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4 Super Easy Steps To Better Dog Walks

Aug 9 / Holly Leake
For many, dog walking can seem like a chore, one that is tolerated but nevertheless something that isn't particularly enjoyed. You may be in a rush to get to work or maybe you are eager to watch TV after a long day. You may pull your dog along with impatience and choose to walk the same route daily to get home as soon as possible.

However, you could be missing out on wonderful opportunities to bond with your dog. You may find that your dog seems unfulfilled by their walks and that they have lots of energy, despite walking for an hour or more. This may be due to the fact that your walks are slightly boring and even lonely for your dog. Since the walk is an activity, critical to our relationship with our dog, this blog is going to consider 4 super easy ways to improve your dog walks and why this is important for you both.

Switch Off Social Media

Have you seen the zoned-out dog walker with their headphones on, glued to their phone screen, whilst totally oblivious to their dog? Maybe this is you. Don't worry, we've all been there but what we may not realise is, we are neglecting to provide what our dog needs on their walk, interaction. Going for a walk is a dogs most social time and they want to share that time with you, hence just walking them for exercise is denying them one to one bonding time with you, something they probably waited for all day. So, switch off your phone. We all need a break from technology, especially social media. When you live in that moment and just enjoy being with your dog, you will find you both enjoy your walks so much more. 

Let Them Sniff

As a trainer, I am often dismayed when people ask me to train their dogs not to sniff because it is so inconvenient on their walks. This is a natural behaviour and the primary way a dog sees and understands our world. Imagine looking forward to going to see a movie at the cinema, only to be forced to wear a blind fold through the entire movie. Could you enjoy it the same? When we prevent our dogs from sniffing on walks, it is the equivalent of blindfolding ourselves at the cinema. Granted, the dog gets physical exercise but they are not getting enough mental stimulation and this is why dogs aren't necessarily as tired after walks as we would like.

Sniffing is just as important as the physical exercise because scent gives dogs more information about their environment. To put it into perspective, dogs can have up to 300 million scent receptors, in comparison to our measly 6 million. Therefore, dogs rely on scent to explore and obtain information, such as the wildlife that’s been nearby or the dogs that have walked that particular route. Letting your dog sniff will allow them to fully enjoy different environments and provide necessary mental stimulation, which will make the walk more rewarding for your dog.

Let The Dog Choose The Route

Many are misled to believe that allowing their dog to choose the direction they walk, will make the dog think they are the boss or pack leader. I assure you that your dog is not out for world domination and is just eager to explore new routes. After all, how many choices do our dogs really get? Allowing them to choose where to go, makes walks more exciting and providing choice is always empowering for your dog. When you feel that you want your dog to only walk the route you choose, ask yourself whether the walk is for you or your dog. If it's the latter, then allowing your dog to choose the route doesn't seem so unreasonable and trust me when I say your dog will love having the choice.

Do Some Fun Teaching 

Training on walks is great for proofing your dog's cues and it’s also great for those that struggle to fit training into their routine. While your dog's sit or recall may he great at home, it's critical to practice everything your dog has learned in the presence of other distractions, since dogs do not generalise well. This ensures your dog's responses are reliable no matter the situation and it gradually strengthens your dog’s skills.

Taking treats out on walks and doing some training, also gives you the opportunity to do some enrichment with your dog. Dogs love to hunt for things using their nose, therefore, hiding treats and teaching your dog the cues “wait” and “find it”, can be an effective way to make your walks far more interesting. Your dog will love all the interaction they are getting and they will definitely be more tired after their walk.

So, walking your dog encompasses far more than just physical exercise. It's an activity that strengthens your bond, provides mental stimulation and choices and many opportunities to train. When we acknowledge that walks are for our dog's benefit and not our own, we will hopefully do everything in our power to ensure this activity is as enriching as possible and we may be surprised to discover, it's just as enriching for us too.

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