Lighter nights are here and the clocks are set to spring forward this weekend, giving us that extra bit of momentum to get out and about with our dogs.
As responsible dog owners, we should try to ensure that our faithful friends get the exercise that they need. But in reality, the long winter months can be a disincentive to being out with our dogs any longer than ‘necessary’. How many times have we taken Fido out for a quick run around the block before bedtime when strapped for time?
Spring often feels like a new beginning: longer days and a hint of warmer weather can kick-start us into action.
The bottom line is that exercise is essential for your dog and for you! We need to be active in order to achieve good physical and mental health and developing a routine – albeit a variable one – with your dog is great way to do this.
So how, do we get started? Set yourself some targets – consider your dog’s requirements: his age, breed, ability (including the impact of physical and medical ailments) and establish an optimum amount of daily exercise.
You don’t have to do this in one session. Ideally, do it in ‘bite-sized’ chunks during the day – little and often can be a good approach, particularly if you are training or retraining your dog in respect of the essentials such as walking on a loose lead or recall.
Build-up your exercise over time and add things to mentally stimulate your dog and enhance the bond between you. Take a toy with you – something that your dog can fetch or tug – and/or a training lead so that you can enjoy a game together and remember the rules…let him win and reward him for his good behaviour with praise or treats.
If you think your dog may be distracted by the sensory ‘explosion’ around him, perhaps schedule your first walk before you feed him. That way, he’ll be hungry to please you and responsive to your commands. Food will always be of higher value to your dog than any bird, jogger or cyclist when he’s not had his breakfast!
As you get into your new routine, add a bit of extra time where possible. Consider little bursts of high-energy activity such as a jog or run during your walk which will increase your heart rates, improve your metabolism and increase your ability to burn calories.
Change your routes – and at the weekend take him to a different spot – a hilly walk in the woods will be good for you and your dog, provide a change of scene and new stimulation, as well as aerobic demands which is also great for lung capacity.
Don’t forget to take some water with you, particularly as we head into the summer months. It’s easy for your dog to overheat and get dehydrated when he ramps up the energy.
So, when you put that clock back this weekend and think about losing that extra hour in bed, think also of the positive…getting out and about, becoming fit and healthier and reinforcing your bond with your pet. You can be sure – your dog will love you for it!
Should you need the brush-up the basics or need help with any behavioural issues that you notice when you are out and about with your dog, give me a call – 0782 848 2654, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or message me through my social media pages.