6 Tips to Put More Fun Into Fido’s Walk
By Skye Anderson
Do you walk ahead of your dog, constantly nagging him to “Come along, little doggie”? Does he walk a couple of paces ahead, stop to sniff, and then catch up to you again? Or, does he forge ahead, leaving you off-balance with a yanked arm?
How you and your dog walk together can say a lot about your relationship. We sometimes forget that dog walking isn’t a chore; instead, it’s the perfect opportunity to deepen the bond between you and your best friend.
Everyone (human and canine alike) walks differently, but here are a few suggestions to strengthen the relationship with your best friend while out and about on an exciting, rewarding walk.
- Teach Fido loose-leash walking. Pulling, in any direction, can be uncomfortable for both Fido and you; loose-leash walking ensures that Fido is neither dragging you forward nor lagging behind. He is staying within a leash’s radius of you. Think of it as dancing with a partner without stepping on his toes. To learn more about loose-leash walking, watch this YouTube video on the subject, or read “How to Teach Loose-Leash Walking.”
- Don’t keep the walk ‘strictly business.’ After he finishes his, keep going. Longer walks are a rewarding experience for most dogs, so if you immediately turn around and head for home after he uses the restroom, he may delay doing his business next time to extend the fun.
- Let him stop and ‘smell the roses.’ If he stops to sniff, it is for a reason. These diversions can be fun for both of you. See if you can guess what he smells. Or, just enjoy the pause and take time to smell the roses yourself.
- Leave your cell phone in your pocket. Keep it on you for emergency purposes, but remember, you are walking your dog, not your cell phone! Of course, that doesn’t mean you need to walk in silence. Carry on a conversation with Fido; he will love the attention.
- Don’t hesitate to cross the street if you see a big dog or unruly owner approaching. There’s no need for your dog to say “hi” to everyone. You know his temperament best, so don’t feel bad if you avoid interactions he won’t enjoy. Your job is to protect your dog.
- Allow Fido some free(ish) time. Take a long line, 30 yards or so, with you. When you come to a vacant field or an open space, attach the long leash and give Fido more freedom to sniff and explore.
A good walk is physical exercise for you and mental stimulation for your dog as he explores and interacts with an environment outside his usual domain. Most importantly, it is another way to spend quality time with your best friend!
Skye Anderson has an MS in Avian Cytogenetics. She writes the EverythingDogBlog for the Patch online newspapers and for www.DogEvals.blogspot.com. Skye has also reviewed dog books for about 10 years for various publications including the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. She currently runs a training class for homeless dogs and their people and has been a positive-reinforcement, reward-based trainer for nearly 20 years.