Daily exercise is vital for your little buddy, whether he or she is overweight or in great shape. This is why walking your dog can (and should) become a routine. The problem with routines, however, is that they can become ruts if you’re not careful. And the last thing anyone — dog or human — needs when they exercise is a rut.
So how do you keep the routine fresh? Mix it up. It’s that simple, really. Do something different on your walks, every day. Check out different places, even if that just means making a right instead of a left when you step outside. Offer your dog (and yourself!) new sights, sounds and smells. You’ll be amazed at how the smallest shift in your routine can stimulate your mind and your dog’s senses.
Some of the following tips seem pretty obvious, but sometimes when you’re on autopilot, all you need is an obvious idea thrown your way. We hope these ideas help you and your dog find the fun in walking once again.
No one knows every nook and cranny of their own town. There’s always a hidden trail, an out-of-the-way park, a forgotten landmark, etc. Start with asking your veterinarian if there’s a recommended “hidden gem” for dog walking, but think outside the box. Bike and outfitter shops are great places to find intel on local trails. If you don’t have one of those, even asking a clerk at a big-box outdoor retailer can open up whole new worlds. These questions can help you look at your own neighborhood through fresh eyes, and if you’re in a new place, asking questions can cut to the chase and get you where you need to go.
Head to the city
If you live in a rural area, heading into the city for a few blocks of concrete and car horns can seem like you’ve traveled to a different planet to your dog. So many foreign sights and sounds and fire hydrants! The only drawback is that your dog will want to sniff everything.
Head to the country
On the flip side, if you’re used to pounding the pavement with your pooch, taking in some rolling hills and mooing cows can be a breath of fresh air. Literally.
Check out the parks
Again, even if you think you know your town or neighborhood, there’s a solid chance that there’s a park you haven’t explored recently, if at all. Check out your city’s website for a full list of parks and greenspaces that allow pets. You might be pleasantly surprised. Don’t forget to expand your search to include county and state parks. There could be some beautiful places that you never knew about right in your own backyard.
Go for a hike
“Hike” can mean a lot of things, but for our purposes, we mean “head to the woods.” Checking out an off-the-beaten path (or a nicely beaten path, if you prefer) can add a whole new realm to your exercise routine. We recommend sticking to marked trails and making sure that the trail matches both your and your dog’s fitness level.
Letting your dog “invite” a few four-legged buddies can make walk time infinitely more enjoyable. Your dog gets to share all their favorite spots, and you get to hang with more dogs. Everyone wins! Oh, and you could invite other people, too. Some socially distanced conversation can make the miles sail by.
Switch up the schedule
This one can be a little harder to incorporate. You’re probably in your routine for a reason. You exercise when your schedule permits. But if you can vary the times, even by a few hours, you’ll notice a world of difference. Shadows come at different angles. Traffic patterns change. But the best benefit of switching up your dog walking routine is that since others are probably also on a routine, you’ll encounter new people and critters to smell.
Keep within your limits
No matter how you shake up your dog’s exercise routine, it’s important to make sure that the activity is within their physical limits. Age, weight and physical condition all play a part in how vigorous your exercise regimen can be. For more on that, check out this post.
It can be so simple to make walk time exciting again for both yourself and your dog. All you have to do is bust the routine a little bit.