By Karen Soukiasian
We can all use a little more exercise. If your pet has been cooped up all day in the house or a crate, going for a walk with you is the next best thing to a T-bone!
Being creatures of habit, it’s up to us to change the pace now and then. Vary the route. These subtle changes make the journey with you more interesting. It demonstrates and reinforces you are in charge of the experience. Walking your puppy or dog at least twice a day is probably the greatest way to establish a special connection with them. This is quality time. It’s time to spend focused on them. It’s something you may dread, but they certainly look forward to it.
Walking also provides an outlet for them to hone their socializing skills. Meeting new people and new dogs in a well-mannered way is all part socialization. Being pack animals, most dogs love to socialize!
What many fail to do to expand the experience is to talk to their dog during their walks. Dogs learn by association. When walking your dog, let them know how pleased you are when they are walking calmly by your side. That way, should they begin to stray off into their own world, you can gently make a correction they can relate too. This helps to establish or maintain your status as the leader.
Now we get to the hardly know advantage. As most dog owners know, dogs are territorial. It is to their advantage to know their territory.
By walking them regularly, yet varying the routes, we are aiding them program their internal Global Positioning System (GPS). The daily walks become fact-finding missions. By giving them the opportunities to mark their territory, gather and identify recognizable scents and familiarize themselves to landmarks, we are helping them how to find their way home, should they ever stroll off!
Another invaluable aid to consider, especially if you and/or your dog are new to an area, is to have them microchipped. It is inexpensive and virtually painless.
Most shelters and veterinarians are equipped to scan your dog for a chip. Give yourself peace of mind. With a microchip, you could be only a phone call away.
Bottom line: Most often it is a puppy or dog that is unfamiliar with an area either because they are never walked, or have just moved there, that wander off to explore.
Next thing you know, they get lost and cannot find their way home. To save yourself a lot of stress and possibly heartbreak, do yourself and your dog an enormous favor; give them the advantage. Walk them!
It’s great exercise for both of you. It’s valuable bonding and training time. More importantly, should they roam off, it provides your dog the advantage of how to navigate their way back home.
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