January is Walk your Pet Month! What better way to start off the New Year, than with a resolution to walk your dog more often making sure you both get more exercise and fresh air! Walking is a great activity for both you and your pet and allows you to bond with your dog.
Don’t have a dog? Try training your cat to walk on a leash or include a couple of times each day to actively engage your cat in some short workout (10-15 minutes) sessions. Try using a laser pointer, a wand toy, or a ball to get your cat moving!
Walk times can be stressful for owners whose dogs have less than perfect behavior when encountering other dogs or smelling tempting scents that cause the dog to dart from one side of the path to the other. When out walking with your dog, be sure to focus your attention on your friend at the end of the leash! Talking on your phone or texting family and friends is a sure-fire way for your dog to get away with bad behavior. Stay focused on your companion. By praising him frequently praise him for his good behavior, he will start to pay attention to you! Be sure to pack treats to reward good behavior.
Try out new routes to provide your dog with a change of scene. Predictable walking routes can become a bore for both you and your dog. You might meet new people and new furry friends too!
If your dog is used to short walks but you’d like to spend more time outside this winter, gradually increase the time you’re out walking. After a few weeks of gradually increasing your walks, you will increase your strength as well as your dog’s. Be mindful of the weather though – if it’s extremely cold, snowy, or icy, be prepared to cut your walk short. If at any time your dog is slowing down, shivering, or whining, it’s time to end the walk. Consider a sweater or coat—especially for dogs with short hair—and boots to protect your pal’s paws.
Even though the days are just beginning to lengthen in northern latitudes, the days are still short. Early morning and late afternoon/evening walks are dark ones. If these times are typically when you walk your dog, make sure that both you and your companion are visible to motorists, cyclists, and other dog walkers or pedestrians. There are many lighted collars or leashes (or clip-on lights for collars) available; and if your dog wears a coat or sweater, be sure it has reflective tape on it. For your own safety, wear a light-colored jacket, or one with reflective tape.
With some areas still experiencing limited indoor activities, meeting friends for a walk in the great outdoors is one way to keep in touch, motivate yourself to walk, and a way to get some exercise. Be sure to follow guidelines recommended by your local health unit regarding gatherings and obey trail closures. Both you and your dog will benefit, and the daily activity will help the dreary winter months fly by!