National Walk Your Dog Week with Davi

My mom and I recently followed a path through a grove of trees.  While she craned her neck identifying the different timber, I was watching birds, sniffing new smells, and lunging towards lizards that were blocking my way.  Certainly a change from our normal neighborhood walk.

The first week of October is National Walk Your Dog Week, an important reminder to canine guardians that exercise is vital for a healthy pup.

Many owners make the mistake of thinking that a romp in the yard with playmates is sufficient exercise. But recess doesn’t boost cardio as much as a walk, and backyard time is usually consumed with sniffing and sunbathing – guilty.

Walking not only gets your pooch’s blood flowing, the heart pumping and the calories burning, but also can aid in getting the digestive system moving – great for dogs that have been experiencing, ahem, digestive backup.

Giving your dog a chance to see the wider world provides him with a mental health boost, too. Covering fresh ground on a walk lets your dog investigate new and interesting sights, smells and sounds.

It takes just 30 minutes of walking a day to improve heart health and curb behavioral problems. So grab your leash and get ready to move your paws with these helpful hacks.

Follow His Nose:  Stand back and let your dog lead the way.  He might take you to a scurry of squirrels, and mark every bush down the lane, but letting him choose is a nice way to give him a chance to show you what he finds interesting.

Stop and Sniff:  When dogs use their nose, their brain is working at a mad pace analyzing different odors. Allowing your canine to have a sniffing adventure will add stimulation, which means he’ll be extra tired with less desire to redesign your living room.

Rev it Up: Make your walk more fun by stepping up your pace from time to time.  Short bursts of speed allow dogs to stretch muscles and burn excess energy, especially after eating too many treats.

Walk Somewhere New: Dogs get bored with the same old routine, so mix up your route once in a while. Try walking in a different direction, or visit a local park or trail. Your dog will be exposed to new sights and smells, different dogs, and different people.

Obey Leash Laws:  It only takes one distraction for things to go sideways.  Leash laws aren’t just in place to keep dogs from being a nuisance, they are created to keep dogs safe. 

Use Lights after Dark: When the daylight hours start to dwindle, invest in wearable lights or reflective gear to keep you safe and seen.

Practice Obedience: Practicing basic commands in new areas is an easy way to reinforce obedience. Reward-based training is the most reliable way for dogs to learn. By rewarding your dog with a treat when they do what you want, they will want to behave that way again. Start with simple concepts, like sit and stay, and pretty soon your dog will obey no matter what is going on around him. Whether your pet is just starting out or looking to brush up on his skills, the Jacksonville Humane Society offers obedience classes ranging from basic dog manners to canine good citizen training. You can register at: https://www.jaxhumane.org/services-and-resources/training-classes/

If you love your dog, then go the extra mile and get the most out of your walks. The exercise is good for you and your dog, and since you can do it almost anywhere, the possibilities are endless.  In the end, it’s not where you walk, it’s who walks with you that matters.

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