Keeping your dog on a routine is important. Canines like to know what’s going to happen throughout the day. I guess that makes it easier for them to plan out their busy schedule of chasing the cat, barking at the mailman and wolfing down their tasty CANIDAE food. The daily walk is an important part of your dog’s routine, but it can become a bit boring if you do the same thing every day. It’s good to spice it up now and then, to make it more fun for both of you.
Change the Pace
Many dogs enjoy getting out for a run, and jogging is a good way to build endurance and burn off calories. However, jogging isn’t for everyone or every dog. You can still mix up your pace and walk faster or slower, and in doing so you establish yourself as the leader by controlling the speed. Quickly changing directions helps to teach your dog to pay attention to you. Mixing up both speed and direction can make a walk even more stimulating.
Have Alternate Routes
A walk is not nearly as interesting when you see the same things day in and day out. Varying your route gives you different sights, smells and sounds that enrich the senses of both you and your dog. A nature trail offers different stimulation than a walk around the neighborhood. If you don’t have a trail close by, you can always drive to a nearby park or trail. When you walk out the door with your dog, he will look to you to see what’s going to happen next. Anticipation is part of the fun.
Walk with a Friend
Sometimes it’s nice to have company during a walk. If you have friends or relatives that have dogs, set up times to walk your dogs together. You can also find a park where the dogs can play while you talk.
Savor Mental Stimulation
Sometimes you need to get through a walk quickly so you can go to work or keep an appointment, but when you aren’t up against a schedule, slow things down and enjoy nature. Pay attention to the different smells and sounds floating in the air. Watch an ant scurrying over a blade of grass, or a hawk circling overhead. Don’t forget to let your dog investigate interesting smells he comes across.
Our environment is teeming with life that’s so easy to miss when you rush. Walking gives you the opportunity to appreciate the delicate beauty of a spider web or watch squirrels playing in the trees. The natural world has a way of calming the soul, and you can bet your dog is taking in everything around him.
Help your Dog Learn
Point to a twig, butterfly or flower and say what it is. Dogs are so good at following a pointing finger that some scientists believe it may be an ability they’re born with. One way to make your pet smarter is by teaching him different words. Mental stimulation keeps the mind healthy. Teaching while you walk gives your dog a reason to pay attention to you, and makes the walk more exciting.
Find a quiet place to sit where you can give your dog some extra attention. Talk to him and scratch his ears. It can be fun to just sit for a while and enjoy each other’s company. It’s a good way to bond with your dog and observe how he reacts to different sounds, sights and scents.
Attitude is Everything
Don’t be afraid to let your inner child out. Play with your dog, laugh, talk and teach. Put your cell phone in your pocket and leave it there, so you can focus on your dog and enjoy his company. Be curious and explore right along with your dog. Get off the sidewalk and walk in the grass. Go to a beach and walk in the sand or at the water’s edge.
The best way to make walking your dog more fun is to see it not as a chore but an opportunity to spend some quality time with your pet. Even a quick walk around the neighborhood can be more enjoyable when you think of it as play instead of just “walking your dog.”
Top photo by benjgibbs
Middle photo by Chris Doelle
Bottom photo by Bambe1964
Read more articles by Linda Cole