A dog’s world is quite small and limited to only what you introduce them to. A daily walk can work wonders to break up your dog’s day. It’s an easy way to provide enrichment and bond with your pooch, and it’s great exercise for the person on the other end of the leash as well.
I like to incorporate exercise and training time in my walks, and I usually end in a leisurely sniffari to bring down the excitement. I recommend beginning the walk with a quiet moment of sniffing. I’m sure your dog is curious to know who’s been walking by their front door, so allow them to sniff and get their bearings. Once my pup’s have checked their "peemail", relieved themselves, and are warmed up, I say “let’s go!” and get my power-walk on!
Now is when I keep my dogs engaged with me and reward them for checking in with a yummy treat or a bit of praise. I incorporate some training like asking for a random “sit”, “heel”, “wait”, and change my pace (pick up the speed, slow down a bit). I make sure to praise and reward for a job well done. This keeps their cues like “sit” and “heel” fluent, and also makes me more interesting than the environment. I’m not taking them on a walk, we’re going on a walk together!
After getting our sweat on, I say “all done” or "slow slow", and we take it down a notch. This is my dog’s favorite part of walking: The Sniffari. During a sniffari, dogs get to sniff to their heart's content. Sniffing is mentally stimulating and has a calming effect on dogs. It’s a peaceful time and I allow them to take the lead as long as it’s safe to do so. I reward them with praise or a treat for checking in on me, as I appreciate being included during their sniffari.
Remember, the length of the walk should depend on your dog’s age and health. A 10 week old puppy or arthritic senior shouldn’t be going on a 5 mile trek, but a 2 year old healthy adult is likely to really benefit from a 3 mile hike. Know your dog and their limitations, build and train their muscles slowly in the same way a runner trains for a marathon, little by little.
If you have a dog that is reactive, fearful, or unruly on walks, contact Dogish so we can help you make walks enjoyable again.