All dog owners know that their pups need daily walks to stay happy and healthy. A walk provides both physical exercise and mental stimulation for a dog.
Each dog is different so depending on the dog’s age, weight, breed and overall health condition the length of a walk varies. Certain breeds are more laid back while others have a lot of energy. On an average though, dogs can walk from 30 minutes up to 2 hours on a daily basis (source). All walks have their advantages, but occasionally it can be fun to bring some extra elements to the walk. Doing activities with your dog during a walk is especially great if you have a high energy dog that needs a lot of mental stimulation.
Here are some ideas on how you can enrich your dog’s walk. Please be advised that the ideas mentioned in this article are not meant to replace your dog’s regular activities. They are just extra fun things that you can add to your dog’s walk.
1. Vary Your Routes
Do you often walk the exact same road with your dog? Personally I even as a human get tired of the same old roads, so I can imagine that dogs might do too. Try to keep things interesting by changing the road you walk every once in a while. If you have a car you can even travel to a new location whether it is a less familiar part of your town or a trip to nearby nature trails in your area. You can even try walking your regular road backwards or you can vary your walking speed to add some interest to your walk.
2. Take Advantage Of Your Surroundings
Found a big rock? Spotted a large log or a tree stump in the forest? Get creative and have your dog do tricks on these objects you find in your environment. For example, a dog could jump over objects or balance on them. Please always make sure that your dog is safe and that you know his limits.
3. Mid-Walk Play Sessions
Does your dog love fetching? Consider bringing his favorite toy with you and find a safe place such as a fenced dog park to tap into that prey drive. If fetching isn’t your dog’s cup of tea, how about bringing along a mentally stimulating dog toy instead and letting your dog solve that in your local park, for example.
If your dog gets along with other dogs, he might enjoy some playtime in the dog park or you could set up a meeting with dog friend that he can play with.
4. Scent Work
Allow your dog to use his natural instincts by creating some fun nose work related activities. This might require some training at home before you can make it part of your walk, but it is worth it. If your dog is not food motivated or you can’t allow him to eat things off the ground, consider playing hide and seek with his favorite toy instead. Again, this might require training beforehand.
5. Practice Obedience
Take a moment during your walk to practice your dog’s basic obedience. You can ask him to sit, stay, heel and so on. Obedience training is such a fun way to spend time with your dog. This way your dog uses his brain during the walk, gets a reminder of all the basic things he knows and he gets to have some quality bonding time with his person.
6. Give Your Dog A Job
Stimulate your dog’s mind by giving him a “job” to do. Working dogs such as guide dogs, herding dogs, police dogs etc. have their task that they love to fulfill regularly, but even a companion dog can have a simple job that the owner came up with.
For example, maybe your dog could wear a dog backpack sometimes? Granted that he is healthy and otherwise capable to do it. Start with an empty backpack and gradually add some weight to it if you want. According to my research the weight limit is 10% of your dog’s body weight. Never make your dog carry too much weight, because it will cause health issues.
If backpack is not something your dog would like to carry around, consider coming up with some other task that your dog could do. If your dog is healthy and on the larger side, maybe he would enjoy pulling a cart, for example.
7. Walk By An Interesting Location
Our city has a park that sometimes houses farm animals in it and there’s also a pond for wild birds. Occasionally we pass by there during our walk and my dogs love to watch all the alpacas, llamas, birds, and ponies. Maybe your town has something similar that you can enjoy with your dog?
This article shares some ideas on how you can enrich your dog’s walk. For example, by letting your dog do tricks and varying your route, you can make your daily walk a tad bit more interesting for your dog and for yourself.
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