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Dog Walking Ideas

Here are some ideas to spice up your regular walking routine with your dog.

Everyone enjoys a walk in the park or somewhere else outdoors with their dogs, particularly in the spring when the weather is warming up and trees and flowers are blooming. But a walk can be more than just exercise -- use walks for mental enrichment and some training as well! Here are some fun ideas you can try to spice up your walks with your dog.

Obstacle Course

Training a dog to do agility obviously includes teaching them how to go through and above various obstacles in the ring. But there are many other options outdoors that you can use to give your dog some fun. For example, low height walls that are as wide as a dog walk can be used to walk your dog along, assuming of course it's safe for him to do so and get up and down easily. Another similar obstacle are raised curbs that provide another surface for dogs to learn balance on. If your local park has seating, such as benches or picnic tables, you can also use these to teach your dog to walk along, up, down, or even use it to practice stays on a table. (Of course, make sure no one is using this furniture at the time your dog is on it!)

Outdoor stairs are another great obstacle that can also improve fitness conditioning for the both of you. You can even mix it up and have your dog sit and stay as you walk up a few steps, then call him, then repeat. And if you live in an urban area and don't have a natural location such as a park, you can still find many of these types of obstacles and stairs as well, such as stairs in your apartment building, in front of buildings like a large museum, or many other places. Be creative and think about areas you can use that are safe, dog-friendly, and will provide some variety for your dog.

A Change of Pace

Simply varying the environment that you usually use for walks can be great mental enrichment for dogs. If you have the time, think about taking your dog someplace different once or twice a week, such as a woodsy or creek side trail, a dog friendly ocean beach, or an urban area if your dog is used to the great outdoors. If you're not familiar with places you can take your dog, look into finding a regular walking group where dogs are welcome. Check for a group near you, or if there isn't one, consider starting one! Not only will this provide enrichment for your dog to be around other dogs on a walk, but it's an opportunity for you to socialize with a new group of humans as well.

Using the Nose

Employing a dog's sense of smell by having them go on a kibble hunt can be a great source of fun for your dog. Find an area that's safe to sprinkle some kibble while your dog is in a stay, and then let him or her hunt for it. A grassy area of a park is a good option, assuming the grass is free of any pesticides or plants that your dog might attempt to eat that are toxic. If you live in an urban area, you can do the same on a sidewalk, or even use some old cardboard and shoe boxes to hide the kibble in.

Bring the Toys!

If your dog enjoys toys, bring some along to use for training and simple fun on your walks. For example, using a favorite tug toy, ask your dog for a sit or down or other behavior every few steps, and reward your dog with a tug session for a few seconds. Then ask them to leave it and continue walking and repeat. Aside from this being fun for the dog, it also helps to teach impulse control and build up the toy in the dog's eyes as a great reward.

Above all, have fun with your dog!

Photo credit: Holly via photopin Back

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