Walk It Out: Fitness Tips for Walking with Your Dog
Ideally every walk should provide both mental and physical stimulation for your dog as well as yourself, but you have to take that first step. Even better, the great thing about dog walking is it's free and can be done any time of the day or night. Just grab your sneakers, a sturdy leash, open the door and off you go.
Your dog has probably spent his day in the house but now it's his time to explore and experience the world beyond those familiar four walls. Your walks should include plenty of time for your dog to sniff, mark some trees and take care of business without being rushed. Give him the opportunity to smell the roses. While you might think your pooch is just dawdling along, he is really soaking in tons of information through his nose. Those smells are like emails left by other dogs in the neighborhood and given the chance your dog will leave his own message. This is how dogs 'see' their world, through smells, so let him enjoy being a dog for a while on his walk. You can encourage his 'reading' by taking him to new places and letting him expand his view of the world.
Be adventurous. How about making a right instead of a left when you walk out the door? Head to the park or drive to another part of town and explore a new neighborhood. You never know what hidden gem you might find during your walk and it can be good socialization time for your dog as well.
To encourage physical fitness try some cross-training. Tackle a hill at fast walk, jog a few yards every other block, or be creative and design a simple agility course. An agility course doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, you can have my dog jump over or crawl under park benches, walk on retaining walls, and clamber around jungle gyms at the park. Your dog will love it and the activity encourages flexibility and some creative thinking-- on both your parts.
Additionally, it never hurts to brush up on some obedience skills on your walk. You might try some down-stays while you window shop, or some fast paced heeling along a crowded sidewalk. When you get to a really wonderful spot like the dog park practice sit-stay or do some recalls on leash before you let him play.
To stay on track, bring a friend. Why not invite the kids or another dog owner to tag along? Some cities even have dog-walking clubs so you never have to walk alone. Meeting up with a walking buddy will make you less likely to ditch the walk and disappoint your four-legged partner.
Remember to start slowly if your dog is out of shape and gradually build up to longer more vigorous walks as his fitness increases. Bring some water if it's hot and don't forget the waste bags! Buy your dog a stylish coat for the winter and a poncho for the rain and you'll never use the weather as an excuse anymore.
Wherever you go and whenever you go your dog will be thrilled and that makes it all worthwhile, doesn't it?