While a stroll around the block may not seem all that exciting or enriching to us, it’s probably the highlight of your dog’s day and an adventure he looks forward to. With a couple tweaks, you can turn your daily walk into your dog’s walking dreams come true!
Set a Sniff Pace
You’ve probably noticed your dog sniff a spot, walk a couple paces, then double-back to sniff that spot some more. Most of us say, “Come on, buddy,” and keep walking. Instead, allow your pup to set the pace, which he’ll likely do with his nose. Let him stop and smell the roses (so to speak) whenever he wants. Sure, it might take twice as long to get around the block, but your dog will get home twice as tired having exercised his strongest sense to its fullest.
Explore New Routes
Most of us are habitual, and our daily walks follow a similar routine. If you’re one who turns left at the end of the driveway every day, try turning right (assuming it’s an equally safe route). Try a neighborhood or a park you’ve never been to before.
Or, switch it up by allowing your dog to determine the route. Clearly you’re still in charge of safety, but with minimal guidance from you, allow your dog to determine which turns to make and which streets to cross. You’ll get to experience the world from his perspective!
Include a Training Game
To increase the mental exercise your dog gets on a walk, pack up a pocket full of treats and include games and training while you walk. You can practice sit, down, stay at traffic lights, practice heeling for fun (so he knows it when the time comes to get serious), or put your pup in a ‘stay’ while you walk ahead and have him run to catch up with you. There are so many fun ways to engage your dog’s brain as you stroll around the block!
Novel experiences are enriching to our dogs because, first, they get bored of the same-old, same-old just like we do. Second, it’s a whole new batch of sights, sounds, and smells for them to encounter and process.
The daily walk can become boring, but it doesn’t have to be! Try these ideas to make it the highlight of your dog’s (and your!) day.