“I’ll be back in a bit, I’m taking the dog for a walk…”
We frequently hear this said in households up and down the country. We see people walk their dog around the neighbourhood, on lead as part of their daily routine. Sometimes it is a leisurely walk, which both dog and human enjoy. Often it is a quick burst of energy before being popped back into the home and the human leave. So how much does your dog enjoy this?
At some point we need to consider what our dog actually enjoys. Our spaniels love to run and be off lead, walking them round the block on the pavement just wouldn’t cut it. For our elderly dog, this would be a perfect opportunity to sniff and interact with the world.
Our dogs will try to communicate to us what they like. There may be reluctance to go down a certain path – after all the scary dog lives at No.92. Our dog may have some arthritis making going far painful. They may prefer to go a different way because the scent is stronger in the other direction. We need to give our dogs the opportunity to choose when we can. This helps them feel more confident and every choice inspires exploration and curiosity.
Next time you take a walk, focus on being WITH your dog. It is not about getting from A to B or just following the path. Think about what your walks feel like to your dog – STEP into their PAWS for a moment. It is not important how far you walk but an opportunity to explore the world and use some of their innate skills. Give them chance to sniff, dig, hunt, walk slowly, and walk fast. The point is – do it WITH them, not for them. Doing dog-like activities WITH them is fun and I can tell you from watching dogs for hours and hours, this stuff tires them out just as much as a 5km walk with your leading the way.
Remember to take time to stop and sit too. Yep that’s right I said sit on a walk. This is good for you, you get to observe the world passing by but so does your dog. You can learn a lot about stuff by just sitting and being still.
Dogs like variety too, just like us. So don’t always walk them in the same place, in the same direction. Mix it up a little. This keeps it fresh and fun. Sometimes, take their ball, but not always. No-one wants a ball bound dog. And let’s face it pizza every day wouldn’t taste the same as having it as a special treat. Let them have time off their lead (if you have trained a reliable recall). Let them say hello to other dogs if you have introduced all politely and everyone is happy.
What is it that makes your dog light up? These are called Glimmers – they make your dog’s eyes sparkle. Do some of that. Get to know what your dog likes and prefers to do with their time away from home. If you are wanting to get to your exercise goal for the day – you really don’t have to take your dog unless they like that too. And I have never met a dog yet who has to do their 10,000 steps or 50 press-ups.
WALK WITH YOUR DOG!!!
It is important for their well-being.
It is important for yours too.
I promise you it will feel so much better than just walking the dog.