Posted Date: March 30, 2016
On Wellness Wednesday, some ideas to spice up your regular walking routine with your dog.
It's Wellness Wednesday, and also incidentally,
National Take a Walk in the Park Day. Everyone enjoys a walk in the park or
somewhere else outdoors with their dogs, particularly in the spring when the weather
is warming up and trees and flowers are blooming. But a walk can be more than just exercise - use walks for mental enrichment and some training as well! Here
are some fun ideas you can try to spice up your walks with your dog.
Training a dog to do agility obviously includes teaching
them how to go through and above various obstacles in the ring. But there are
many other options outdoors that you can use to give your dog some fun. For example,
low height walls that are as wide as a dog walk can be used to walk your dog
along, assuming of course it's safe for him to do so and get up and down
easily. Another similar obstacle are raised curbs that provide another surface
for dogs to learn balance on. If your local park has seating, such as benches
or picnic tables, you can also use these to teach your dog to walk along, up,
down, or even use it to practice stays on a table. (Of course, make sure no one
is using this furniture at the time your dog is on it!)
Outdoor stairs are another great obstacle that can also improve fitness conditioning for the both of you. You can even mix it up and have
your dog sit and stay as you walk up a few steps, then call him, then repeat.
And if you live in an urban area and don't have a natural location such as a
park, you can still find many of these types of obstacles and stairs as well,
such as stairs in your apartment building, in front of buildings like a large museum, or many other places. Be creative and think about areas you can use that are safe,
dog-friendly and will provide some variety for your dog.
A Change of Pace
Simply varying the environment that you usually use for
walks can be great mental enrichment for dogs. If you have the time, think about taking your dog someplace different once or twice a week, such as a woodsy or creek side trail,
a dog friendly ocean beach, or an urban area if your dog is used to the great
outdoors. If you're not familiar with places you can take your dog, look into
finding a regular walking group where dogs are welcome. Check meetup.com for a
group near you, or if there isn't one, consider starting one! Not only will
this provide enrichment for your dog to be around other dogs on a walk, but it's
an opportunity for you to socialize with a new group of humans as well.
Using the Nose
Employing a dog's sense of smell by having them go on a kibble
hunt can be a great source of fun for your dog. Find an area thats safe to sprinkle
some kibble while your dog is in a stay, and then let him or her hunt for
it. A grassy area of a park is a good
option, assuming the grass is free of any pesticides or plants that your dog
might attempt to eat that are toxic. If you live in an urban area, you can do
the same on a sidewalk, or even use some old cardboard and shoe boxes to hide
the kibble in.
Bring the Toys!
If your dog enjoys toys, bring some along to use for
training and simple fun on your walks. For example, using a favorite tug toy, ask your dog
for a sit or down or other behavior every few steps, and reward him or her with
a tug session for a few seconds. Then ask them to leave it and continue walking
and repeat. Aside from this being fun for the dog, it also
helps to teach impulse control and build up the toy in the dog's eyes as a great
These are just a few ideas you can use. If you have more,
post them on our Facebook page! And above all, have fun with your dog!
Photo credit: Holly via photopin (license)
Photo credit: Sintra, Portugal, 2011 via photopin (license)