Where do you exercise your dog?
Do you visit the park or go for a walk?
Is it the same or similar route every day?
As humans we are creatures of habit; we tend to walk the same route or visit the same park day in and day out, and yes I am sure your dog loves it as much as you do, however what if you could make your dog’s exercise even better?
I challenge many of my clients to make a date with their dog and once a week take them somewhere completely different; to a location where the dog can both physically and mentally engage with the environment. Somewhere off the beaten track. Somewhere where your dog can use all their skills, which in turn will not only exhaust but also satisfy your dog completely. So what skills should we be encouraging our dogs to use?
Smell: Did you know that sniffing is 5x more mentally exhausting than a walk? After all dogs explore the world with their noses.
Touch: Dogs don’t wear shoes so are far more aware of surfaces underfoot.
Sight: Providing your dog lots of different visual stimuli.
Taste: Dogs love to lick, chew and manipulate with their mouths.
Hearing: Exposing your dog to novel noises that encourage them to think. When was the last time your dog heard a cow moo?
Proprioception: Body awareness/placement. Navigating over, around and under.
How do I think you should walk your dog?
Stay away from big, green, well manicured open areas and where safe use a long lead and well fitted harness* so your dog can enjoy the location at their pace. Don’t think of it as a walk, think of it as an adventure!
- Go country! This one is my favourite as I find it as relaxing as my dogs do; try once a week taking your dog for a drive with the window partly down to find a rural or semi-rural location where your dog can enjoy the raw scents. There are many country bakery’s that allow dogs too! Make a day of it!
- Find a beach that is that little bit further away. Most of our suburban dog beaches are so heavily frequented that even the seaweed smells like dogs! Find your dog a beach where the sand has no paw prints!
- Off the beaten track. Find a local bushland area and don’t walk on the path! Encourage your dog to make a path by walking over and around the flora. Of course keep an eye out for our scaly friends during the warmer months and use caution.
- Encourage your dog to sniff! Take them for a walk around your local shopping centre or hardware stores after hours, sporting complexes when not in use, schools….. Think of locations where there are lots of scents!
- Outer suburbia is not that far away! Walking some of the streets in our outer suburbs can be not only fabulous for smells but also for sights. Look for areas where there are hobby farms, stables, etc. Many dogs will love to chew on the grasses too!
- Use Google! If you struggle to find locations do what I do and check out Google maps. It’s amazing the locations you can find!
*We recommend and stock Perfect Fit Harnesses as they allow complete freedom of body movement and are extremely comfortable for the dog.
Kalmpets Head Trainer