I get it, its winter. It’s bloody cold and wet and you’re probably thinking to yourself, do I really need to walk my dog? Well, in my opinion, the simple answer is, YES but there are times where it’s totally fine to skip a day if you have to. Research has shown that there are benefits of daily exercise for both dogs and their humans, so this post is aimed at giving you some tips on how to best vary a dogs walk and some ideas for when the weather is bad or you’ve got a bad case of CBF.
It’s important to note that different dogs require different amounts of exercise. How much exercise depends on a number of factors such as; age, breed, personality, health etc. Another important factor which might sound basic to some is the weather. For example, in summer, if you can’t put your hand on the pavement for 5 seconds because it’s too hot, then you shouldn’t be walking your dog as they are going to burn their paw pads. I generally say if it’s sunny and 27+ then no walks. Same with the cold, your dog doesn’t want to walk in a blizzard or a storm just as much as you don’t want to. In saying all of that, I don’t know about you guys, but I get serious cabin fever if I’m stuck inside the house day in and day out… so does your dog! So, getting your dog out for a nice walk when you can, is a very good idea, for both of you.
The Benefits of a daily walk for your dog.
Having a well exercised dog will help out in so many aspects of their lives. It will help with their overall health and mobility, weight and digestion. It will also help to get out some of their energy and importantly is a good way to build that bond and trust with you, plus it will help to reduce boredom and behavioural problems.
Make a daily walk, routine for you and your dog, it’s good for both of you!
A daily walk (if you can) is a win/win for everyone. Along with all the benefits for your dog it also keeps us fit and social and gets us out of the house. And for those of you who are mums, it’s also a great way to knock off some of those post baby kilos.
How far do I need to walk my dog?
Just make sure to know your dog and what their requirements are. Not every dog requires an hour walk a day, some might need more and some way less. If you’re unsure, have a chat to your vet. But a good way you can tell if your dog has had enough is if you have to literally drag them, that’s their way of telling you they’ve had enough or they might even be a bit sore. So don’t push it, if your dog is giving you those signals, it’s time to get home and make sure not to push it as far next time. This goes especially for puppies, they are still growing so it’s very important that you don’t overdo it with them. If you come home from your walk and your dog is full of beans still, that shows that maybe they need a bigger, longer, more stimulating walk next time.
Different types of walks.
A long walk, a fast walk, a run, a visit to the dog park, a slow sniff and stroll. What’s your go to? In our house, we mix it up, and I strongly suggest you do too! I try to do something different every day for Cooper. Plus, it’s better for his body to not be doing hard core vigorous exercise every day. I get sick of doing the same thing all the time as I’m sure he does. Mixing it up and giving variety, will be more mentally stimulating for your dog too. Walking to different places and experiencing different smells is so exciting for our dogs.
Did you know that taking your dog for a slow walk and letting them have a good sniff of their surroundings can actually be more mentally tiring for them then a big run! We think, the faster we walk our dogs, the more tired they’ll be, but this isn’t always the case. It’s SO good for your dog to use their nose. They take so much in with their sense of smell that this can actually be more tiring for them. Same goes with dog parks. We often take our dog to the dog park because we think it’s the quickest fix to tire a dog, but that’s not always the case. I do include the dog park in my mix for Cooper as it’s a great way for him to have a run off lead and to have a play with other dogs, I just make a habit not to do this every day.
What can I do if I can’t get my dog out for a walk?
Mental Stimulation is just as important… Here are some great ideas for you!
On those days when you just can’t get your dog out for a walk, it’s too hot, cold, wet, you have an injury, the kids are sick, you’re recovering from having a baby, whatever it may be, choosing some fun and mentally stimulating games for your dog to play in the house is a great way to entertain and tire your dog. Our favourite game in our house is called “Where’s Lobby”. Pretty much Cooper’s favourite toy is a red lobster called Lobby and we hide it around the house and make him find it. He loves this game and so do the kids!
There are so many different and fun games you can play; you can hide treats around the house and make your dog find them, play fetch with a ball down a hallway, play tug of war, you could even play hide and seek with your dog. Plus, there are also various toys you can buy that dogs can play with on their own, for example, the ones that dispense treats to help keep them busy and stimulated. Giving your dog a bone to chew on is another good idea when you really have no energy for games. Or give them a Lickimat with something delicious!
Just being with your dog, is often all they need.
In the end of the day, some days we just don’t have the energy or the time for any of this. So, don’t be hard on yourself. Just try not to get into a habit of it being every day. Dogs are social animals. Just being with them, in their company is sometimes all they need. Sometimes, when I’m dropping the kids at my parents or my in-laws, I bring Cooper along for the car ride so he can have a change of scenery, he loves it. Sometimes, I’ll just walk him as far as the café and I’ll sit and have a coffee there with him. He loves getting out and about. It helps with the cabin fever. And on those days where you feel you just can’t get them out of the house or you just don’t have the energy for that game of tug of war they are asking for, just give your dog an extra cuddle and a pat and let them be in your company.
I’d love to hear from you guys if you have any other fun tricks and games you do with your dogs on days when you just can’t get them out for a walk. Leave a comment below.