While walking the dog might seem routine or even like a chore, walking time can be a great opportunity to connect, bond and share special moments with your dog.
We’ve come up with a few ways to re-energize the walk for both you and your dog.
1. Be One with Nature
While it’s easiest to just walk out your front door for a potty break, seeing the same sights day after day can get a little old. Mix it up and take your dog to a new park or trail. While this might not fit into your daily routine, it’s a great weekend activity. Look in your area for dog-friendly trails, beaches or parks. Let your dog romp in the sand, listen to birds or roam through trees. Your dog will love the new smells and textures and will likely be worn out from the stimulation.
2. Take a Walk on the Town
Bring your dog with you to a dog-friendly shopping center, pet store or on a walk through town. If you can, walk to the groomer or to pick up dog food. This is a great time to practice training and social skills as you are likely to run into new people and situations.
3. Explore Your Neighborhood
While this one may seem obvious, I fully admit to walking the same set of streets repeatedly. But it’s always a welcome surprise when I try something new. I’ve found awesome views and hidden parks just by taking a different street, or wandering down a new path. Make a right turn instead of your usual left, accept that you might get to a dead end because there is also a chance you may end up somewhere new or unexpected. Just keep a phone or notebook handy to trace your steps in case you get lost!
4. Bring a Toy
Even dogs need a little fun and motivation sometimes. Bring a favorite toy and turn the walk into a game. Let your dog carry the toy around with him if he wants. Just like he wants to see the world, he probably thinks his favorite toys do too.
5. Spruce Up Your Gear
It’s always exciting to get something special and new. Treat you and your dog to new walking gear. Get yourself a new hat, doggie bag holder or dog walking shoes. For Fido consider a new leash or harness or a cute new bandanna for those walks on the town. If you are just getting into longer walks with your dog, make sure you are equipped with gear that is safe and comfortable for both of you. The next time you head out in your new duds, you and your dog will know something is special.
6. Learn Something New
Use your walking time to teach or brush up on a skill. Whether it’s a basic dog walking skill like not pulling, or something more advanced like heeling or sitting when you stop, a walk is a great time to practice. Not only will this improve your future walks, but the act of training challenges them mentally while the walk takes care of the physical. It’s a great combo that will give a better behaved dog in the end.
7. Pick Up the Pace
A change in pace can be a great change of pace. Consider going on a run or jog with your dog, the new speed will burn energy and be an exciting pick-me-up. Always start slow and check with your vet and your doctor. If running isn’t for you, try speeding up the walk a bit, you will likely find your dog more attentive at a faster pace.
8. Find or Start a Dog Walking Group
Walking can be better with friends. Checkout Meetup.com to find a local walking group in your area or grab some friends and start one of your own. Not only will this encourage you to get out and about to new places, but it group walking will improve you dog’s socialization skills.
9. Choose a Destination and Catch a Ride Home
It can be boring to walk in circles. Pick a place to go whether it’s a quick stop at a coffee shop, a picnic in the park, brunch in town or a regular errand. Have a spouse or friend meet you there so you can choose a destination further away without having to worry about the walk back.
10. Enter a Charity Dog Walk
There are many organizations who fundraise with dog walking events. You can do good while also have a great time at these dog-friendly events that typically also include food and fun for the family. Check with your local shelters or national events such as Strut Your Mutt.
11. Train For and Complete a 5K
Whether you are an avid runner, or a regular couch sitter, working towards a goal is always fun, especially when it includes your dog. There are many dog-friendly races out there. Give yourself and your dog ample time to build up and choose a race that fits your timeline. By making your dog your race buddy, you can motivate each other to complete your goals and it may even become a regular activity.
12. Raise Money for Charity
WoofTrax, an app for your phone, lets you raise money for your favorite animal shelter by walking your dog. Download the app to track your walks and walk for cause.
13. Stop and Smell the Roses
Often walks are about getting from point a to b for exercise or potty time. Take a moment to look around and enjoy the beauty of your walks. Take mental notes about what sights and sounds you and your dog are drawn too.
14. Make it a Family Affair
So many times the dog walking ends up as one persons responsibility. Even if you volunteered for the task and enjoy the time alone, it can be a fun experience to get the whole family out and about from time to time. Give your dog a chance to walk with everyone, so they can bond and also learn to listen to other members of the family.
15. Pick a New Time
Try walking your dog at a different time of day. Try walking under the stars or getting up early when the birds are still chirping, try to catch a sunrise or sunset.
16. Bring a Camera
Document your walks and remember that it’s all about being out with your best friend. Capture your dog playing, taking in the sights, or grab a selfie of the the two of you enjoying your time together.
You can do this on your walk or when you get home, but take a moment to stop and reflect on your time spent with your best friend. Take notes on funny things you saw, people you met, or something silly that happened. If you do it often enough you will end up with a wonderful collection of stories and memories you will always have to look back on. If you also brought your camera, you can add in a photo to help commemorate the day.
Whatever you decide to do have fun! Regular walks will help keep your pup fit to reducing anxiety, regular walks can improve socialization, behavior and overall mental health and wellness.
Is there anything you like to do to make your dog’s walk special? Tell us in the comments below.
More Dog Walking
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