Now that Covid-19 has limited us to one walk a day, how do we make the most of it? It’s time to get creative and think about all the different ways you can have fun with your pooch, so you can enjoy every precious moment while you’re out and about.
If you’re a dog lover, you already know the joy of taking your furry friend for a walk every day. You’re out in the fresh air, your dog’s ecstatic and you can feel your shoulders gradually relax as you get into the rhythm of the walk.
What kind of dog walker are you? Try our dog walking quiz.
Right now, we need distraction too, and there’s nothing like walking the dog for helping you to clear your head. As you look up at the sky and connect with the natural world, it gives you a different perspective. It’s not just your dog who’s off the lead. Your mind feels free to roam, too.
Establish a routine
If you’re only going for one walk a day, the first thing to do is to set up a routine. Dogs love routine. They’re highly attuned to what they feel is the ‘right’ moment for their walk, food or bedtime. And if they’re used to having two walks a day, one at 8am and one at 5pm, they might be put out by the shift to one single walk.
Of course, there might be several people in your household, each one keen to walk the dog and fill their lungs with freedom. But if your dog is only getting one daily walk at the moment, try to make it at a similar time.
And if your pooch seems restless and needs to burn off some additional energy, try our fun tips on creative ways to exercise your dog indoors.
Vary your route
We’ve been told we shouldn’t get in the car and drive somewhere to exercise, so that means no excursions to the seaside, no trips to distant beauty spots and no adventures in far-off forests.
When you take the dog out now, your walk is necessarily going to be closer to home. But that’s no reason not to make it as interesting and stimulating as possible for both you and your canine companion.
As humans, we’re creatures of habit, so we tend to walk along well-worn tracks on our walks. This is your chance to mix it up and do something different. Why not take a detour along that interesting bridge you’ve never explored? Or turn left where you always turn right? You never know what you might find.
Switching up your route will keep you and your pooch engaged and interested. As you know, dogs have an extraordinarily sensitive sense of smell. So they’ll relish the chance to sniff their way along new paths and discover the source of exciting new scents.
Let your dog lead the way
Another idea is to abdicate all responsibility for choosing where you go. Let your dog decide on the route! Your pup might decide it’s essential to sniff a particular hedge for 15 minutes or choose to head off down a gloriously muddy path. You might even find the two of you are just walking in circles for a while.
It’s best to be chilled about this. If necessary, combine your walk with meditative deep breathing. Your dog is having a fabulous time exploring their surroundings and you’re just going along for the ride. And who knows? Your dog might help you to see your home turf in a whole new light.
Teach your dog new tricks
By teaching your dog tricks during your daily walk, you’ll give your pup some extra mental stimulation – and help them use up more energy, too.
You could start with something simple, like a game of fetch or leave. Alternatively, try incorporating natural and man-made elements as you go along. For example, encourage your dog to walk along a log or jump over a fallen tree and reward them with a treat at the end.
Back at home, if you’ve got space in the garden, you can supplement your dog’s daily walk with an agility course. Get them weaving in and out of orange cones, crawling through a tunnel or practising their jumps. If you’re looking for a project, you might even decide to build your own dog agility course.
The good news
At YuMOVE, we like to look on the bright side. Despite everything else that’s going on, we can still enjoy daily walks with our dogs. We can still use our pooch as the perfect excuse to escape the house and share their delight at being out in the fresh air. Joy is infectious, and there’s nothing more joyful than a dog who knows it’s time for a walk.
What’s more, experts tell us that there’s no evidence that dogs can spread Covid-19. Another reason to just relax and enjoy that walk.
Now, where’s that lead?