A regular walking routine helps to improve our physical and mental health. Physical benefits include getting fitter, weight loss, better muscle strength, supple joints and general toning. When we walk our bodies release ‘feel good hormones’ called endorphins and these help us concentrate better, have higher self-confidence and gain better sleep. Dogs also enjoy these benefits, like us they have physical, mental and emotional needs. A good dog walk can satisfy these needs and when we take these into consideration, walks become a pleasurable experience and not a chore.
Dogs have been bred to seek out human company. If this is not happening we need to ask ourselves why? What is it that competes for your dog’s attention? A potent wildlife smell? Another dog to play with? Something scaring them? During our walks we need to see the world from our dog’s perspective. This isn’t always easy. Our dogs are individuals and their experiences are completely unique to them. We need to learn their language because they do tell us what they need if we take time to listen to them.
So how can you improve your dog walks?
Choose an Appropriate Location
Pick places or walks that have an enrichment aspect to them – chances are if you are bored walking round the same block that your dog is too. Mix your walks up and try not to do the same walk twice within a day. Choose an environment that will keep your dog safe and able to concentrate on you. There is no point walking somewhere where your dog is unhappy or where there are too many distractions for them. Set your dog up for success. We are always more confident when we have knowledge and experience, so it is always worth checking out an area before we walk our dogs there.
Provide Engagement Activities
Allow your dog to have opportunities to train and play during your walk – this captures their attention. Toys are great, but only when we are engaged in the activity too. It can be fun to make up activities – ‘find it’ games using food in the bark of trees, scent trails amongst fallen leaves, balancing on tree stumps, hide and seek, recall challenges. Our dogs enjoy the opportunity to use all their five senses so get creative.
Think About The Speed
The pace you walk can certainly affect your dog's interest. Dogs who like to waddle often wander off if you stomp too far ahead. Bouncy, boisterous teenagers may need jobs to do. Lead pulling frequently happens because our dogs are unhappy that their natural pace is mismatched with our own. Speed up and slow down and see what happens. Variety keeps our dogs watching what we are doing.
Do You Need Help?
If you need help to stop your dog walks being boring, please contact me using the button below. I offer individually tailored 1-2-1 Canine Coaching to help you develop your relationship with your dog. We will work together to improve your training skills. Sessions can be in the comfort of your home or in a real life setting to suit your needs. Each session is 1-2 hours long and include a follow up email and telephone support. Sessions start at £45, packages are available for multiple sessions.