It is important that we, as dog guardians, regularly remind ourselves who our dog walk is for…..the dog!  Yes, one or more of their daily walks may be a quick walk around the block for them to do their ‘business’ before you start work or before bed. However, hopefully at least once a day, we take our dogs out for a walk that is not rushed and is all about them.

As fun as life at home can be, as you all know, these are the walks that your dog lives for. If it is possible, these are the walks that need to have an ‘off-road’ and off lead (or long line if recall is not reliable) element. Yes, dogs need to exercise and to run, but it is so much more than that.  When a dog is out in a field or in a wood it is a sensory heaven for them. The majority of which they take in via their nose. If you own a working breed, then it is even more important that they have the opportunity to do what is part of their genetic make-up – to get their nose down and search for a good scent. So, don’t rush your walk, if they stop to sniff, stop with them, and enjoy watching them at work.

These daily walks can be an ideal opportunity for you to practice training with your dog and continue to build that bond. As well as poo bags, and ideally a whistle, tasty treats should never be forgotten. Work on recall, not by throwing a ball which is encouraging them to run away from you, but by making yourself fun and running away from them, so they have to catch you.  Play hide and seek, by sneaking behind a tree and calling to them, it will become such a great game for them, they will want to find you and, therefore, be with you.

Stopping to play scent games will exercise and tire your dog’s brain.  You can practice a sit and wait while you hide a few pieces of food in the grass or around tree roots, then teach a ‘find it’ cue to release them to find the food. You will be surprised how quickly they will learn to wait patiently while you set up.

If your dog is an only dog and not dog reactive, arrange to meet up with friends who have dogs regularly, so they get some dog on dog play time or to just have a sniffing buddy. Dogs are sociable creature that enjoy the company of other dogs. It will also give them the opportunity to practice communication through body language, especially if they are young.

So basically, put away your phone, leave the ball launcher at home (or in the bin – that’s a whole other blog!) and enjoy interacting with and watching your dog on one of their most important and fun times of the day!

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