10 expert tips to improve you and your pets wellbeing on walks


Walkies and workouts: expert shares top tips how to make winter walks more fun for you and your pet

It can often be easy to forget about all the health and social benefits dog owners reap from walking their furry companions regularly. A regular walk is not only vitally important for your pet's health but is also a great opportunity for the owner to clear their head and get in some steps too!

To mark the end of Walk your Dog month, Bella & Duke's Natural Canine Behaviourist, Caroline Spencer, lists her top 10 tips for making your walks one of the most beneficial parts of the day:

1.       Remove distractions – put away your mobile phone when out walking and make it about you and your dog. You get the best connection and fun when you are not distracted.

2.       Try different locations – variety is truly the spice of life. It can be mentally draining doing the same walk day in, day out so let your dog decide whether to go left or right, live in the moment.

3.       Keep yourself and your furry friend active and warm when out and about – nothing makes you want to get inside quicker than a cold frosty day, so wrap up and ensure your dog is on the move. If they have less hair, like Whippets and Grey Hounds, then it may be beneficial to pop a coat on them if they accept clothing or make their walk shorter.

4.       Opportunities for sniffing & enrichment – engage your dog's brain by encouraging them to sniff or play with toys on your walk. It's also a fun way for the owner to keep engaged and feel connected with their pet.

5.       Get plenty of rest – if you and your pet are feeling particularly tired and can't bear the thought of stepping out into the cold, that's absolutely fine. Have a rest day with short trips out to do the necessaries.

6.       Influencing your dog – your body language influences your dog, if you find yourself often worrying about crossing paths with other dogs that could aggravate your own pet. Try looking for a different route where you are sure to have more control over.

7.       Taking care of your dog post-walkies – paws can often get clogged up with snow and grit during the winter months, so regularly check when you are out and about as they will become sore if left. Your dog will also get colder quicker.

8.       Take in your surroundings – enjoy the quieter hours of the day and take in your surroundings. Start foraging for wild foods such as raspberries to share with your dog. Get them back to nature and help them do what comes naturally to them. Soon you'll find your dog plucking berries off the branches themselves!

9.       Keeping stimulated - similar to humans, when dogs don't get enough mental and physical stimulation they will get bored or even depressed. It's important you're engaging with your pet and exploring new places for them to smell.

10.    Picking walking times – if possible, leave your walks until a little later when hopefully the sun is up or at least the temperature has gone up a notch or two. To keep spirits high, try take the opportunity when there is a break in the weather.

Caroline Spencer, Natural Canine Behaviourist at Bella & Duke, added: "Walking your pet should be fun for both you and your dog. It's how we often start and finish our days and can have a positive impact on the direction of our day. It has long been proven that walking has a number of benefits for wellbeing and it needn't be monotonous, take time to enjoy yourself and your dog will thank you for it!"

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