Taking your dog for a walk is important on a whole lot of different levels, it’s great for your dogs health both physically and mentally and it's really a great time for bonding between both dog and the owner.
For me personally it’s a special feeling that is not only great for my dog but is also special for me. The question is are you doing it right? Well here are some tips and advice that you maybe didn’t think of before that you can implement on your next dog walking adventure!
1) Allow Your Dog To Sniff Around
A lot of people assume that dogs need their daily walk for exercise and while that is of course true it isn’t the only benefit to your dog. Your dog likes to explore and really likes an adventure and one of the important parts of that is a good sniff around the place.
If you didn’t already know dogs sense of smell is much stronger than humans, while there is no scientifically proven number we do know for sure that dogs sense of smell is much stronger than humans perhaps 100x as much. What that means is that they love to sniff around and when you are on your walk with them you should at least allow them some time to explore with their nose.
Of course, some dogs are really curious and will often want to sniff every 10-20 steps so perhaps instead of letting them sniff at every opportunity you should maybe set a designated area for where you allow them more freedom to explore.
It’s undoubtable that dog's sense of smell is a core part of what gives them enjoyment and mental stimulation so you would be doing them a disservice if you didn’t allow them some time to enjoy it and when you are on a walk that is of course an ideal time for that.
2) Use a Retractable Dog Lead Instead of a Normal Lead
While you will hear some conflicting information about whether you should use a retractable lead or a regular lead for your dog I am on the side that it’s all fine and I actually much prefer a retractable dog lead.
I feel if you have a dog that is quite well trained and obedient then using a retractable lead is a no brainer.
It gives them more freedom to roam a little further than they otherwise would be able to with a regular lead. I personally feel dogs need some more of that freedom and when they do get that freedom it's a moment they savour more especially when they aren’t used to it.
Some dog owners have often said using a retractable lead can lead to bad habits but if you are using a retractable lead and your dog misbehaves you can simply switch back to the regular lead and limit them again to show them that they can’t get away with being naughty.
That’s how I like to do it anyway. So overall giving your dog that freedom I think is more stimulating for them and I think it's a great thing to use at least occasionally.
3) Bring Water and Treats
A sometimes overlooked element when going on a walk if bringing water and even treats. Sometimes owners think they your dog will only need water on a hotter day or on a longer walk but that isn’t always the case.
Even on a shorter walk I recommend bringing water. Of course on warmer days it is almost essential that you bring water. You can either bring your own container or get a collapsible water bottle from a pet store designed for that use.
Also treats are a good idea to bring along. Sometimes they can be a good distraction for your dog when he is distracted or aggravated by something you would prefer he wasn’t. Having some treats handy is the ideal antidote to this and will often quickly resolve the problem thanks to a distraction - treats!
The treats can also be used when giving your dog training commands that they complete successfully. That affirmation that they have done well with some training or commands is great to be affirmed with some treats as a reward.
4) Wear High Visibility Clothing
Wear high visibility clothing especially at night. If you are someone who likes to walk your dog at night or in the evening it’s particularly important that you wear something that is reflective and makes you easily spottable when walking your dog. You can even get highly reflective coats for your dog so that they are as easily spotted as you.
Of course wearing something high vis can also be important during dull days or walking somewhere that may be more dangerous such as on roads. Then having a high visibility or reflective clothing is almost essential when walking your dog in my opinion.
5) Before The Walk Starts
Before the walking even starts you must start with good intentions and guidance as the dog owner. To give you an example of what I mean. Let's say you call your dog and tell them you are going for a walk. Perhaps they then become excited and start barking or even jumping up on you.
Now instead of going for the walk immediately you must then basically stop the whole routine of going for a walk and then sit back down and basically stop the pattern. You can then wait for 5-10 minutes before starting it again.
The point of doing this is to show your dog that barking and jumping up onto you are not good and will even mean not going for a walk. This can build discipline and is a simple but effective training technique which has been proven to be effective once your dog learns why doing certain things aren’t good.
Simple repetition even a few times will be enough for your dog to pick up the message or in some cases it may be longer but overall it is a great training strategy. I always would recommend you do it before you go walking if your dog does something bad or naughty.