Everybody knows that regularly walking your dog plays an integral role in your dog’s health. However, many don’t fully understand why and, as a result, don’t take full advantage of its potential. By doing a little research with this guide to walking your dog you can change up your routine. This makes it so your pet gets the most out of their daily walk.
Before domestication dogs were semi-nomadic carnivores who diligently maintained their territory and used scent markers to communicate with others animals of the same species. Modern dogs are different from their ancestors in a myriad of ways but still retain many of their base instincts and perceptions.
The Importance of Regularly Walking Your Dog
Regular dog walking is about more than just bathroom breaks. They are a vital source of both physical exercise and mental stimulation without which a pet can become stressed or unhealthy. More than that, regular walks give dogs a stronger sense of their environment, allowing them to become familiar with the physical layout and inhabitants. It is also a social ritual, allowing the dog to locate and identify other dogs in the surrounding area and communicate with them.
A dog’s sense of smell is almost incomprehensibly advanced compared to a human’s and acts as their primary method of understanding and interacting with the world. As such, smell also plays a distinct role in communication with other dogs. Dogs can identify another dog, including its age, gender, and health, by sniffing its waste. This is partly why a dog’s walk and its bathroom habits are so closely related. It’s also why they can be so particular about where they use the bathroom and why they are such avid sniffers. Additionally, have a specific scent gland located on their front paws which is why they may dig into the ground after defecating to further mark the spot.
Dog Walking Tips for Beginners
If you want your pet to enjoy your daily strolls to the fullest, don’t cut it short or hold the leash too tight. Let the dog indulge it’s curiosity and sniff to it’s heart’s content. This not only allows for maximum mental stimulation but also helps in socializing and adapting to the environment. This boosts confidence and reduces stress, which can make your pet happier and more manageable at home. Barking is often about establishing territory and warding off potential threats and familiar scents are less likely to trip this specific alarm trigger.
Try to keep the leash fairly loose and let the dog determine the direction. If you do need to exert some control for the animal’s own safety, try not to pull on the leash. Dogs have an instinctive reflex to push back against pressure from behind and the resulting tug-of-war can end up doing damage to their necks. It can also be stressful, psychologically, as the dog knows it’s being punished but is not sure why or what it should do differently. Using a gentle tug and then rewarding with a looser leash hold can be extremely effective in reinforcing positive behavior while on walks.
Keep Your Dog Hydrated During Walks
Always bring extra water, especially on hot days. While some breeds can go for longer periods of time without water, some dog breeds, especially small dog breeds, can dehydrate very quickly, which can lead to heatstroke and even death. That said, it’s important to keep your dog hydrated.
Dogs have a harder time controlling their body temperature than humans do because of their fur coats. Their primary method for cooling down is panting which is less effective. If you see your dog panting excessively then offer a drink to help it cool down. A water bottle is relatively easy for a dog to drink out of, as long as you hold it, and can be capped and carried without much trouble. It’s also a good idea to check the pavement temperature on hot days to prevent damage to the dog’s feet.
Another great way to keep your dog hydrated on those hot summer days is to feed your dog watermelon. With over 92% of the fruit being composed of water, watermelon is the perfect summer treat for dogs. While watermelon is safe for dogs, you should make sure to not allow your dog to eat the seeds or rind of the watermelon, as they may be difficult for your dog to digest.