Four tips to improve your dog walks

Four tips to improve your dog walks

With spring officially arriving on 19 March and lighter evenings returning, more frequent or longer dog walks will become the daily norm once again. Whether you’re new to owning a dog, or just looking to brush up on your skills, Catrin George, Animal Wellbeing Specialist at Animal Friends Pet Insurance, shares how their latest dog training series can help make for a more enjoyable dog walk...

A tasty treat

Food can be a great motivator for dogs and a significant help when trying to keep their focus. Catrin says, “It is easy for our dogs to get distracted when out on a walk. Spend some time figuring out what your dog's favourite tasty treat or toy is and use this to your advantage. Make it fun by having them chase the treat or even scattering a few in the grass for them to sniff out.

“Letting them have some fun with a tasty reward when on a walk can help keep their attention on you, whilst also adding variety and enrichment to your time together.”

Can you smell that?

Dogs have a profound sense of smell that is 10,000 to 100,000 times more accurate than a human’s, which can mean a lot of waiting time to allow them to have a good sniff. Catrin adds, “We can often find ourselves feeling frustrated when we only have 15 minutes to squeeze in a dog walk, but our furry friend seems more interested in a good smell. However, having a ‘sniffy walk’ can be very beneficial for our dogs.

“Sniffing gives our pups lots of mental stimulation. Keeping their nose busy on a walk can also help your dog to feel a little more relaxed, as the scent work keeps them 'in the moment’ throughout their stroll.”

Walk your way to great behaviours

Our day-to-day routines can often begin to feel tiresome and it's important to ensure both the human (and canine) brain, is getting enough stimulation. Catrin says, “Adding fun games into your usual route can make it more exciting for your pet and allows for some training time too. Once or twice a week, why not take a longline and some tasty rewards to a local, quiet area and get some recall practice in?

“Not only is this fun for our dogs, but as with sniffing, training can be a great form of mental stimulation5.  You can find more in-depth guidance on how you can start implementing recall into your daily routines in Animal Friends’ new dog training series.”

Don’t be tight

Like with recall, any form of training can be mentally stimulating for a dog6 and learning new tricks is not just for those young pups. Catrin explains, “Google trends didn’t just show a spike in ‘puppy for sale’ in December 2023, it also saw people actively searching for a ‘dog rescue’ that same month7. Rescue dogs can equally benefit from some one-on-one training time with their new owners, not only to help build trust and that new bond, but some may have never even experienced walking on a lead before.

“Additionally, having a dog that pulls can be challenging and disheartening as an owner, especially when training them to walk nicely can be a lengthy process. The Animal Friends dog training series includes enhancing your skills with your dog, such as implementing loose lead walking into your routine; a great way to turn your everyday mundane walks, into a learning process for both owner and dog, at the same time.”

Wherever you decide to wander this spring, whether it’s with a new pup or a golden oldie, remember that there are always new tricks to learn that can help make your time together that little bit more special.

Alessandra Pacelli

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