As spring slowly arrives, it's now time to get back into a regular dog walking regimen! Does walking your dog the same route every day feel like a chore? There are many ways to change up your routine that are fun for both you and your dog! Here are 10 ways you can put a little "spring" in your steps!
1. Socialize. Stop and talk to your neighbors who are also out walking their dogs. If both of your dogs are friendly, it's a great opportunity for both you and your dog to brush up on your small-talk skills! People seem to be chipper when the sun is shining!
2. Make a pit stop. Decide that your walk will be to a certain destination such as a friend’s house, the pet store, an ice cream shop or a dog-friendly patio. If you can accomplish an errand like mailing a letter or picking up some produce from the farmer's market, even better!
3. Walk with friends. The time you spend walking your dog is also a great opportunity to bring friends along and catch up. Bring some to-go drinks and enjoy a stroll with some of your favorite two-legged and four-legged friends!
4. Take a new route. Both humans and dogs are creatures of habit. Why not reverse your routine by starting off in the direction you normally finish, push on one block further or explore a brand new part of your neighborhood? New scenery keeps it interesting for you both!
5. Bring another dog. Offer to pick up a friend or family member’s dog and take them along for your journey! Walking with some new company allows you and your dog to spice things up a bit.
6. Change the pace. Mix up your pace and walk faster or slower, or even jog a little bit. Quickly changing directions helps to teach your dog to pay attention to you. Mixing up both speed and direction can make a walk even more stimulating and exciting.
7. Stop at an off-leash neighborhood park. Allow your dog to let off some steam before continuing on your way. Off-leash play is a great time for your dog to truly burn off some of that excess energy. No off-leash park in your area? Pause for a tug session. Tug of war doesn't take up much room but does take quite a bit of energy!
8. Take the time to train. Dog walks are a great time to brush up on some basic training and improve your bond with your dog. Training in a stimulating environment away from your dog's comfort zone will help improve their ability to concentrate and listen your commands. Ask for and reward desired behaviors—stop, sit, look at me, wait—during your walk. Learning plus treats equals a good—and productive—activity.
9. Take time to smell the roses. Smells are extremely important to your dog. If you usually don't let your dog stop and sniff, give them a chance to have some moments to fully enjoy it. Think of pee as a dog's way of communicating with other canines in the neighborhood. It's like checking Facebook. It's his pee-mail! The information he's taking in is a lot for a dog's brain to process, but that's a good thing - your walk drains more energy!
10. Play "find it." Most dogs are natural-born scavengers. They love the thrill of discovering something really great to put in their mouth on the sidewalk. It's like the dog lottery! Make your walk like a treasure hunt by periodically tossing treats in front of you, and then give the cue "Find it!" to let them know that the hunt should begin. This game can help you control scavenging and allow your dog to better fulfill his scavenging needs!