Are your dog walks a bit boring? Is your dog walking routine stuck in a rut?
You rush in from work. You’re tired and all you can think about is ticking jobs off your “To Do” list and settling down in front of the tv for the evening. The dog greets you with a happily thumping tail, so you grab the lead and head for the first place you think of… which just happens to be where you went yesterday and the day before.
Let’s face it, if you find walking the dog a bit dull and predictable, why would your dog feel any differently? And likely, it’s the highlight of their day!
If your heart sinks at the thought of treading the same familiar paths, then stop! Don’t do it.
Turn your back on ‘predictable’ by injecting fresh sparkle and vigour into your walks. Not only will this reinvigorate you, but it’ll put an extra bounce in your dog’s stride to boot.
Yes, it’s going to be or have been a busy day! A shakeup to the routine, though, can be so energising! These are our ideas for making walks with your dog more fun for you both! Your dog needs a walk, so make the most of it rather than a simple check off on the to-do list.
A Change in Walking Plans
1. Ditch the Mobile Phone
Instead of putting the dog on a leash, heading out the door and then proceeding to pull out your phone and check what’s been happening on Facebook while you walk, leave the mobile at home and fully engage with your dog. Watching their antics! Watch the way they sniff and explore! You’ll discover the curious world around us to dogs!
2. Observe your Dog’s Body Language
Are they mooching along, tail down, too bored even to sniff? Or are they trotting along, tail up, and with a bounce in their step? If the former, then you need to shake things up. Start by praising them when they do what you ask. Give them some freedom to move about or sniff on their leash. And let them observe their surroundings as you go.
3. Let your Dog Take the Lead
OK, time’s limited and perhaps now isn’t the moment to go somewhere new, so make the most of where you are. What if you let the dog take the lead? Literally. Stop pulling back on the leash and let them have their head. If they want to sniff, then let them, after all scent messages are the doggie equivalent of Twitter or texting. Follow where they take you for a walk.
4. Meet up with a Dog Pal
Or, how about arranging a meet up with a doggy pal and their humans. That way you both get some new company. And if you happen to go past an off-leash area, the dogs can play tag and chase in the park too.
5. Add in some Game Time
Simple things can bring a whole new perspective, such as taking along a toy the dog hasn’t seen or played with for a while! And then let them indulge in a game of Frisbee or fetch in the middle of your dog walk. For some dogs, simply carrying their favourite toy in their mouths while they walk is enough to add a strut to their step.
6. What Interests your Dog?
Think about what interests your dog. Are they a sniffer? Then consider taking treats or a toy to lay a scent trail. Hide the item behind a bush and have them sniff it out. Start with an easy find and as their skills build, make the scent trails more complex. This is one challenge they’ll adore rising to.
7. Impromptu Dog Agility or Dog Parkour
Take a look at what’s around you in the park or field and see if you can devise an agility course or do some dog parkour. Haven’t heard of dog parkour? It’s where dogs are introduced to the world of jumping, climbing, balancing over, crawling under, and going around different obstacles in their everyday world. And it’s fun! Check out the International Dog Parkour Association for more on Dog Parkour and titles your dog could achieve.
Teach the dog to weave in and out around saplings or jump from one tree trunk to another. They’ll be so pleased when they learn a new skill it will make your heart glad.
8. Give them your Undivided Attention
Dogs love nothing better than one-to-one attention. Why not give it to them in a spot of reward-based training? Make it fun, but practice “Sit”, “Stay”, and “Fetch” whilst on the walks, hence giving the dog valuable mental, as well as physical, stimulation. No time for some training; simply talking to them as you go, when you’re changing direction or what you see will signal a connectedness to your dog.
Mixing things up for your Dog Walks
9. A Different Time of Day
Try branching out. Taking a dog for a walk at a different time of day can be refreshingly different. You’re liable to meet a whole new set of fellow dog walkers and their dogs that you don’t normally meet. You could make some new furiends as a result.
10. Catch the First or Last Light of the Day
What about a walk at dawn or dusk. These times are my favourite as you get to enjoy the beauty of the low light and soft colours. The beauty of sunrise or sunset will enhance even the mundane of your everyday surroundings. You might also discover the unexpected peace and satisfaction of being the only soul moving as the sun rises or sets.
11. Find New Local Dog Walk Locations
You’d be surprised how often people know of a special nook or cranny that you hadn’t thought to explore. Ask in your community Facebook group (or our group ‘Beyond the Backyard’) for suggestions on new or great places to walk your dog. Speak to other dog walkers about their favourite walking locations. Some other places you might find new spots for dog walks include:
- Local government/council websites
- If you’re lucky enough to live in a tourist town, the Tourist website
- State Parks/Gardens website
- Search your area on google maps for points of interest, parks, green wedges, etc that you can check out
- Use ’Near Me’ in a google search for ‘dog walks’ to find out what’s around you
- Search for your area on Map My Walk or All Trails.
12. Jump in the Car First
There’s nothing quite like heading somewhere new for a dog walk. Head to further from home, go further afield, for dog walks whenever you can! Get on the internet and search for dog-friendly walks in the locality a bit further from home. Check out the sites listed above but looking for somewhere you haven’t been that sparks your enthusiasm. We try to make it a point of visiting a new place at least once a month (if not more often!).
13. Take a Day Trip
Even better, make the dog the centre of attention, and arrange a day trip with them. Take them to the woods or a beach and have them do something out of the ordinary. Combine your walk with a visit to a dog-friendly cafe or a cafe for dogs! Do a spot of touristy exploring or window shopping in a town you’ve wanted to visit.
A Change of Pace on your Dog Walks
14. Individual Walks for your Dogs
Make the walks more fun by mixing things up a little. If you own several dogs, then treat them to a little one-on-one time by walking them individually.
15. Take a Doggie Friend with You
Alternatively, offer to walk a friend’s dog with you. If you have a local shelter, it may even be possible to ‘borrow’ a shelter dog and act as a canine chaperone and playmate on the walk. It’s a pawsome thing to do for the shelter dog and gives your dog the company of a new furry companion too.
16. Join a Dog Walking Group
If you’d like some company yourself then what about joining a dog hiking or meetup club? It’s a great way for both two and four-leggers to have fun, explore somewhere new, and enjoy the company of other people and dogs.
17. Enjoy the Time Together
Don’t forget, it’s the quality of the time you spend together that’s important, rather than the quantity or the distance you go. Take a moment mid-walk to stop and praise your pup, or perhaps to enjoy a snuggle. Come across a fantastic view or a peaceful place to pause. Why not stop, sit down together and take it in.
A Change of Perspective on Dog Walks
18. Savour the Moment
And finally, don’t forget to savour the moment. Our dogs are with us for too short a time. Don’t take a second of it for granted. To this end, how about making a photo record of your walks? After all, with that extra “Sit” and “Stay” training you did to make yesterday’s walk more interesting, you’ll get some su-paw photos to treasure.
Happy dog walks everyone!
Looking for pawsome walks to do with your dog? Check out the walks we’ve featured on Puppy Tales!