Surveys show that only 70% of us regularly take our dogs for a walk. The other 30% are less consistent. Don’t worry, I am not about to dump on the 30%. In fact, I would be willing to bet that even a good percentage of the regular dogwalkers – the 70% – consider walking their dog a chore. Which is too bad.
After all, taking your dog for a walk at least once a day represents a bare minimum of exercise for most active breeds. However, most of us bail because we find walking plain boring. For Fido’s sake – and our own – let’s look at some ways to put a little more excitement into dog walking.
Here are ten ways you can spice up walking to make it more interesting for you and your dog. too.
Let your dog navigate
Okay, you may end up in the bushes, but you are also giving your dog a chance to show you what they find interesting. You just might be surprised at where your journey takes you. And if nothing else, you will be taking a different route than you normally do.
Let Your Dog Take A Sniff Tour
Most people want to crank out a quick walk with their dog and get back home. But if you let your dog take a moment to sniff things, you are giving him a chance to enjoy one of the great doggie pleasures. And if it sounds as if only your dog is getting something out of this, you have not discovered the fun of commenting on what your dog is up to.
What do I mean? For example, that bit of thread he is sniffing is a critical clue in an open murder investigation. Let your canine sleuth lead you from clue to clue. It may sound a bit silly, but no one will ever find out what you have been up to. Unless you blog about it ….
Make it a money-making walking routine
Several apps allow you to make money while walking your dog. This will motivate you never to miss a day. All you need to do is to hit the app button the moment you start walking. Three of the best-known apps are Sweatcoin, HealthyWage and Achievement. All three give you powerful incentives not only to exercise but also to pursue a healthy lifestyle. Check them out!
Go to a dog park or any park, for that matter
Instead of just walking around your neighborhood, you can take a walk at a local park. A bit of research beforehand should help you turn up a dog-friendly park in your community or even a dedicated dog park. The new route will be a change of pace for both you and your dog. And there is so much to see at the park: beautiful scenery, interesting people, other dogs….
Change your route
You can add some variety to your walking routine by going in a different direction for a change. For example, instead of your usual left, you can take a right. Or you can take your dog to a different neighborhood.
Catch up with a friend
Invite a friend along for quality catch-up time during your daily dog walk. If you prefer, you can also take a virtual walk with one of your friends. I know a couple of people who take their cell phones with them when they walk their dogs and get a simply enormous amount of socializing done. Thanks to modern technology, dog walking can become a social affair – even if no one actually comes along for the walk except Fido.
Change your walking pace
When you walk your dog, do you maintain a brisk pace? Do you jog? You can spice up your regular walking routine by changing your pace from time to time. Speeding up is a major factor in making a walking routine more interesting. And here is the good news: preliminary research suggests that varying your pace burns more calories. Don’t tell me you aren’t dying to try it out!
Include basic training during your dog walking routine
You can add a few quick training sessions when you are out walking your dog. Try practicing basic commands like “stay,” “down” and “heel”. This will provide mental stimulation for both of you. And there is no need to make this more complicated than it has to be. By the way, if this is the first time you have ever combined training with dog walking, feel free to keep it simple.
Try some nose-work games
Nose-work games are a great way to add variety to your daily routine while exercising your dog’s sniffing abilities. If your dog is off leash, in the park for instance, you can hide treats that he has to find. Another great off-leash nose-work game is hide and seek: your dog finds you using just his sense of smell. I bet that you can think of any number of games – or variants of the two I have just mentioned.
Goals are a great form of motivation if done properly. Nothing is more ineffective than making grand resolutions. We all know what happens when we say, “I will never, ever eat candy again and I will lose x pounds this year.”
Instead, turn your goal into a game. For example, you earn a big red X on your calendar for each day you take your dog on one (or more) walks. Be sure to define what constitutes a walk beforehand and then be consistent.
Once you have a string of X’s going, you will be less likely to break your streak. I know that it sounds kind of silly, but it works: we humans are kind of funny that way.