5 Ideas to Make Over Your Daily Dog Walk

Do something new.

Routine can be boring and restrictive for dogs. One way to change things up is to venture outside of your regular routine and try a new route or neighborhood. Or change up your normal route by walking it in the opposite direction and adding in jaunts down a different street or block as you move. For an exciting field trip, take your walk to a pet-friendly location, like a dog-friendly shopping street, park, hiking trail or beach. Allowing such exploration with new sights, smells and sounds can stimulate and challenge your dog’s mind in a healthy manner.

Get social.

Walks are a way to keep up your dog’s social skills. Greeting every person and dog along the walk isn’t necessary, nor advisable. But letting your dog see, smell and walk by other people and dogs provides ongoing experience with how to read body language and respond to others.

To provide interaction for dog-friendly dogs, try walking in an off-leash area with your canine. Or join a friend and her dog or a dog-friendly walking group for a walk. For dogs who love human interaction, invite friends to join your walk or scout out a pet-friendly store or restaurant for a visit.

Add an exercise routine.

Adding physical challenges to a walk doesn't just help to slim your dog’s waistline. It also provides a mental challenge and an outlet to release excess energy. Before adding in a new exercise routine for your dog, talk to your veterinarian, especially if your dog has physical limitations.

The environment on walks is often full of natural challenges. Hills and stairs can be conquered to work their muscles on an incline. Or, add resistance by walking on something like sand. Do speed intervals by varying your normal walking pace with the occasional speed walk or jog. Benches, stumps, logs, playground equipment and large rocks can function as obstacles to practice coordination, balance and strength by rewarding your dog for jumping on or over them, depending upon the size. Dogs can be asked to do their own version of push-ups by going into the sit position, the down position and then standing for rewards on various points during the walk. For those needing an extra challenge, talk to your veterinarian to see if your dog may be a candidate to carry or pull extra weight. Weighted vests, doggy backpacks and joring harnesses attached to a weighted item can add extra oomph to a workout for especially fit dogs.

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