Taking your dog for a walk outside is not only extremely beneficial for your dog’s health and wellbeing, it also benefits you.
A regular walk gives you the chance to take a breather and clear your mind from all stress and negativity.
It is also important to consider these tips so that you can take full advantage of the healthy outcomes of these winter walks.
Bella & Duke Natural Canine Behaviourist, Caroline Spencer, lists her top 10 tips for making the most of your walks.
“Walking your pet should be fun for both you and your dog. It’s how we often start and finish our days and can have a positive impact on the direction of our day,” Ms Spencer said.
“It has long been proven that walking has a number of benefits for wellbeing and it needn’t be monotonous, take time to enjoy yourself and your dog will thank you for it.”
Avoid looking at your mobile phone when out walking and turn your attention on you and your dog.
With your mind focused on your dog, you will forge the best connection and ensure they are having fun with you.
2.Try different locations
Mixing it up is the best way to keep you and your dog on your toes and it will make your walk more enjoyable if there is a different scenery every time.
It can be mentally draining seeing the same sights every day, so allow your dog to decide whether to go left or right and live in the moment.
3. Keep yourself and your furry friend active and warm when out and about
Whilst going for a daily walk with your dog is important for your health, the varied weather may make it unpredictable, so if you’ve checked the forecast and it is predicted to be cold, it is vital to wrap you and your dog up before you go outside.
If your dog has less hair, like a Whippet and Gray Hound, it may be beneficial to put a coat on them if they accept clothing or make their walk shorter.
4. Opportunities for sniffing and enrichment
Make sure you keep your dog’s brain occupied by giving them toys to play with or encouraging them to sniff the environment around them.
This is also a great way to keep yourself active whilst also strengthening your connection with your dog.
If you and your dog are feeling especially tired and can’t stand to step out into the cold that day, then that’s completely fine.
Make sure you use that day to get the rest you and your dog needs with brief trips out to run errands.
Your body language affects your dog, so when you are out for a walk and you find yourself worrying about crossing paths with other dogs, this could impact your dog and how they interact with other dogs.
If you are worried about bypassing other dogs on your walk, try looking for a different route.
7. Taking care of your dog after your walk
Depending on the weather that day, your dog could return home muddy or their paws can often get clogged up with snow and grit during the winter months, so it’s important to regularly check them while you are out, as they will be painful if they are left too late. Your dog will also get colder quicker, so be careful of this.
8. Take in your surroundings
Sometimes you can be so focused on making sure your dog is having a good time and getting the exercise they need that you forget to take in your surroundings.
Start foraging for wild foods such as raspberries to share with your dog and get them back into nature. Help them do what comes naturally to them. Soon you will find your dog picking berries from trees themselves.
Just like with humans, dogs will get bored or even depressed when they don’t get enough mental and physical stimulation.
So it is important to regularly engage with your dog and explore new places for them to smell.
10. Pick your times to go for a walk
If possible, leave your walks until a little later in the day when hopefully the sun is up or at least the temperature has risen slightly.
To keep spirits high, try to take the opportunity when there is a break in the weather.