Some winter days, dog walks can feel like more of a chore than a good time. That's kind of the point behind January's designation as Walk Your Dog Month. During these coldest and shortest days of the year, we all need an excuse to jazz up the daily stroll with the pup and get outside regularly with our pets (and it's a great New Year's resolution, too). We've got some ideas to help reinvigorate your routines and focus on good dog-walking behaviors, along with some great gear to make your walks healthy, fun, and safe.
Be The Pack Leader
Be in charge when you walk your dog. While walking your dog, remember to use confident body language-head up, shoulders back, and don't let your dog walk in front of you. Your dog should walk beside you or slightly behind. If your dog does pull ahead, shouting won't get them to return to your side. Instead, reinforce good behavior by rewarding your doggo with a treat when they're walking by your side to keep them in stride with you-and consider a sturdy, no-pull harness to help discourage pulling.
Choose The Right Leash
Many live in cities and neighborhoods where leashes are an absolute must. Choose the right one for you and your dog and your specific circumstances to set you up right for positive walking experiences.
Practice Leash Lessons
There are lots of safe products on the market to help you train your dog not to pull. Until your dog knows how to walk without pulling, view walks as training sessions, and keep them short, frequent, and low stress. Again, reward your dog with treats when they stay by your side.
Bring The Necessities
Always carry bags for cleaning up and disposing of doggie poop-leaving dog waste is not only a health hazard, but in many cities, it's a code violation (plus, it's just plain rude). Don't forget to hydrate by carrying water for yourself and your dog, especially in warmer weather, and be sure to pack your dog's favorite bite-size treats for rewarding good behavior away from home.
Change It Up
To make walks more fun for you and your dog, rove a little-travel off the beaten path by taking your dog on different routes, going to cool places like the dog park or a friend's house, and taking walks with buddies-borrowing a friend's dog or asking another owner to join you on your walk.
Know How Far To Go
How much walking time is enough for your dog? This is a decision you'll make based on your dog's breed, age, physical condition, and time of year. If you have any questions about your dog's condition and ability, check in with your vet.
However you do it, walking your dog-this month and year-round-is one of the easiest ways to bond with your pet and get the mutual benefit of exercise.