Walking your dog is one of the most important parts of your relationship with her. Even if you have a small dog or a lot of property, walking is an essential training and bonding activity for pet dogs. Will your dog get enough exercise by walking? This depends a lot on the dog and the walk. Most dogs need more activity than a daily walk to stay healthy and keep their active minds happy, but there are some things you can do to make the walk more effective and fun for you and your dog. Here are ten great ideas for varying your walk with your dog to make walks more fun and provide more exercise:
1. Surprise Tricks
If your dog knows any tricks at all, you can use them throughout the walk to vary the experience and keep your dog focused on you despite distractions. While your dog may know her commands inside or at the trainer, most dogs forget their training to some degree in new environments. If your dog is too distracted to work for treats or toys, just wait. Eventually, she will understand that she needs to do the activity to keep walking.
- Sit and stay briefly
- Down or down and crawl
- Spin in a circle (make it more challenging by teaching spin left or spin right)
- Walk backward
- Jump up
- Go around me
2. Obstacle Course
Your daily walk need not be boring. Whether you live in an urban or a rural area, you can find ways to challenge your dog on the walk. Agility is a great way to provide physical and mental stimulation to dogs, but you do not need a fancy course or an off-leash area to give your dog the same kind of exercises on your daily walk.
- Jumping over or onto tree limbs
- Walking along curbs
- Jumping onto and walking along retaining walls
- Weaving between traffic cones
- Jumping onto or crawling under benches
- Pushing through shrubbery
3. Follow the Nose
Encourage your dog to follow her nose and let her lead the way. You might be amazed by where your dog takes you, and letting your dog choose the path makes the walk much more mentally engaging for her. Make sure your dog isn’t following her nose to any food that she shouldn’t eat by keeping her on a shorter lead during this activity.
- Train your dog to track a specific animal
- Teach your dog to follow your own path back home
- Lay trails ahead of time for your dog to follow
4. Flirt Pole
Bringing a flirt pole on the walk with you lets your dog burn off extra energy. You can pause in your walk to let your dog run in a crazy circle after the lure. You can use this activity as a reward, distraction, outlet, or all three.
Flirt Pole Uses
- If your dog sees a squirrel, you can ask her not to chase it, then reward her and satisfy the instinct to chase with the flirt pole
- If your dog is reactive to a person or another dog, you can distract her with the flirt pole
- If your dog is pulling and bored, you can lead her on circles around you with the lure
Retrievers sometimes feel that they are not doing anything unless they are carrying something. Letting your fetch-oriented dog carry a favorite fetch toy, while you walk makes her feel like the walk has meaning and also allows for little games of fetch throughout the walk. Furthermore, your dog will look adorable carrying a toy along for the walk.
- Teach your dog to drop the toy, then walk some distance and have her find it again
- Play little games of fetch with a long lead
- Ask strangers if your dog can offer them the toy, increasing opportunities for engagement
Pulling is one of the best ways to let your dog get more exercise on the walk. Pulling can be a great way to let a powerful dog burn off more energy at a walking pace. Make sure that you use a pulling harness and gradually increase the weight. Your dog will love getting exercise doing an important job.
Things To Pull
- A small cart with weight
- You on a skateboard
- You on rollerblades
- Kids will love riding in a cart, but wait until your dog is well trained
7. Walk with Friends
Walking with a pack is as natural to a dog as walking with a person. If you and your dog are bored of the usual walk, try walking with other people and their dogs for a little social engagement and play along with the walk. Walking is a great way to let dogs meet and bond before off-leash play.
Keep In Mind
- Make sure all dogs are vaccinated and cleared by vets
- Keep dogs separate on the walk until you know they are getting along
- Do not push smaller dogs to match the paces of larger dogs
8. Go Off-Road
If most of your walks are on the usual city streets, you can make your walk a lot more engaging by finding natural terrain to explore. Wilder environments are much more engaging than walking in a straight line over the pavement. This may also be a gentler choice on paws and joints.
- Go through grass and underbrush
- Over tree roots and fallen branches
- Through streams
- Up and down inclines
- Through mud and marsh
9. Make it a Dance
If your dog can barely contain herself on a walk and tends to be very cued into you, you can make the walk more interesting and give your dog something to do by dancing your way down the street. Make sure that you only choose dance moves that work well with your dog’s personality and body type. A good rule of thumb is to choose activities that your dog does herself.
- Heel on either side of you
- Circle you
- Walk backward when you do
- Walk on her hind legs
- Jump along next to you
10. Go Places and Meet People
A walk will be much more engaging for your dog if she goes somewhere new, and especially if she gets to meet new people and other dogs. Try taking your dog to any places where she will be allowed, and encourage people to interact with her.
Places To Go With Your Dog
- Home improvement stores
- Farmers markets
- Pet stores
- Downtown areas
Walking your dog should be fun and engaging for both of you. If you find that your daily walk is dragging or you are prone to skip it for something more interesting, try some of these fun activities to bring some spice back into your walk. Remember that walking with your dog is an essential activity that deepens the bond between you and your dog with every step.