July 1, 2018
Taking your dog for walks is an important part of being a good pup parent. Dogs are descended from animals who roam constantly, and many dogs have been bred to walk or travel long distances for hunting purposes — exploring is in their genes!
Even small city dogs need the exercise and mental stimulation that walks will bring them. But while your pup maybe elated at the thought of going for any walk at all, there are tiny things you can do to make your dog’s walk even more exciting for them.
LET THEM SNIFF
In her book Inside of a Dog, Alexandra Horowitz writes at length about how dogs see the world. The main difference between how dogs perceive and how we perceive is that, while humans see the world through vision, dogs “see” it through smelling. So when your dog wants to stop to sniff things, what he or she is really doing is looking more closely at an object of interest. Why pull her away? Give your dog the time and pace required to stop and “look” around.
USE A HARNESS
If you still walk your dog by attaching a leash to her collar, it’s time to embrace 21st century pet ownership! Not only are harnesses easier for owners, they are much more comfortable for dogs. Dogs who pull against their collars often get welts or cuts on their collar line. A well-placed walking harness will go over a dog’s shoulders and around her belly without feeling invasive.
CONSIDER THEIR PAWS
Dogs probably don’t need to wear booties or socks to go for a walks (in fact, your dog will probably hate them more than anything), but you should be cognizant about the environment they are walking in. The AKC Canine Health Foundation explains that while dogs’ paw pads are much heartier than our own feet, they’re not completely protective. Dogs who don’t often go outside in hot or cold weather will be uncomfortable walking on blistering pavement or icy streets.
The foundation recommends walking dogs around dawn or sunset during the hot summer months, and keeping walks short during the colder winter months. You should also be inspecting their paws regularly for signs of discomfort. You can rub vitamin E cream on your dog’s paw pads if they start looking rough.
DON’T PUT THEM IN A SWEATER
Another section of Inside of a Dog, Horowitz explains that most dogs don’t respond well to sweaters, jackets or vests because of a biological aversion to having their back covered. She explains that in the wild, having another dog on their back is a sign of domination. So while your pet may seem more docile and calm when wearing a sweater, it may just be because they feel threatened — probably not something you were planning to inflict on your pup.
VARY THEIR PATH
Finally, since dogs love exploring new scents and seeing the world through their nose, it’s likely that even the same old path will hold new experiences every time you walk. But that doesn’t mean your dog won’t enjoy trying something new! Keep things interesting by varying up your walking path from time to time. It’ll probably be more interesting not only for your dog, but for you too.