‘Walk the dog’ may be just something to tick off your to do list every day but to your dog, it’s his or her absolute favourite part of the day! What can you do to make your dog walk worthwhile for you both, give your dog the physical and mental stimulation they need and keep them happy and healthy all year round?
How far should you be walking your dog? It’s virtually impossible to say. There’s no hard and fast rule for each breed or size of dog. It all depends on the energy levels, intelligence and physical capabilities of your dog. Most healthy dogs need between 30 and 60 minutes exercise a day with some working breeds needing some fast paced aerobic exercise a few times a week, ideally daily. Take your dog’s lead (pun intended) and let them be your guide – if they are restless and pacing around the house, they need more exercise than they’re already getting. On the other hand, your pooch should be happily tired, not absolutely exhausted when you’re done exercising for the day and sometimes it may be necessary to dial it back. Start off with 30 minutes and go from there until you reach the sweet spot for your specific pooch.
A walk is not just an opportunity for your pooch to stretch their legs, it’s also a chance for them to experience new sights and smells and get some much needed mental stimulation. Dogs are similar to humans – they like familiarity but also want to mix it up now and again. Although it gives them a chance to sniff all their favourite spots, walking around the block on concrete on the same route day after day just isn’t going to cut it – your hound needs new experiences too. As often as you can, mix it up, take different routes and if you can, explore parks, beaches, the bush and different terrains. Every environment is a whole new world to your pooch and will help create a more balanced, settled dog in the house.
Take it up a level
If your dog doesn’t seem tired out physically or mentally by his regular walks, why not take it up a level? You could turn up the speed by taking him or her for a speed walk, jog or full on run. If that’s not your thing, try finding a more challenging route for walkies, with hills and/or uneven terrain. Anything that makes your pooch work harder. If all else fails, go on your usual walk but make it more energetic by stopping for a game of fetch along the way or arranging to meet some four legged friends for a run around and play!