I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, as I’ve observed that my style of dog-walking is a bit different from most people’s. Too often the dog walks I see are really dog “strolls” with frequent dog “stops.”
I spend a lot of time sitting at my computer developing what we authors not so lovingly call “writer’s butt.” So I’m always looking for fun ways to get more exercise.
Watson NOT going in a straight line!
One of my favorites is taking my dog Watson for long walks—partly because he loves it, and it gets me outside in the fresh air.
The main goal, however, is to get some aerobic exercise for both of us. Therefore, I need to keep moving at a steady pace, and I need to keep my dog moving too (although he may not always do so in a straight line).
So here are my tips for getting the most out of your dog walks!
Tip #1: Bathroom break first.
A longer dog walk isn’t about going to the bathroom; it’s about fun exercise. So let your dog out into the fenced yard or take them on a short leash to their favorite latrine area first, so they can do their business before you start your exercise walk.
Of course a male dog will still feel the need to mark most bushes and trees but those will be short stops, not prolonged ones, if his bladder is mostly empty before you begin.
Tip #2: Use a harness for maximum control.
Bonus Tip: If your dog tends to pull a lot, use a front-hook harness. When the dog reaches the end of the leash, their forward momentum just turns them around in a circle. This is a nice one I found on Amazon.com
A harness makes it much easier to control your dog without having to pull on their neck or throat.
(Note: for convenience, I’m following the newer convention of using “their” or “them” to refer to a single dog of either gender.)
Tip #3: Use a long leash.
I prefer a retractable one. I know, a lot of people hate them because they can break and come flying back at you causing injury.
For that reason, it’s important to make sure the leash is sturdy enough for your dog. Watson is medium height but weighs 63 pounds, most of which is pure muscle. Therefore, I like a little overkill in the leash department; I use one that is rated for a 100-pound dog. Also it’s a good idea to replace the leash every couple of years, especially if it is frayed at all.
But if you don’t like retractables, a 12 to 15-foot regular leash is fine. The goal here is to let your dog lag a bit behind to smell his “pee-mails” or trot a bit ahead, while you maintain that steady aerobic pace (fast enough that you are breathing just a little bit heavy after about 10 minutes).
Bonus Tip: When using a retractable leash, always use the safety strap that comes with it, so that if the harness comes off the whole thing won’t come flying back into your face (and you still have control of the dog). Here’s Watson modeling our favorite harness, with the leash’s black safety strap looped through his collar ring.
Tip #4: Give a gentle tug when the dog is nearing the end of the leash’s length.
If the dog has fallen behind, accompany the gentle tug with a verbal command such as “Come on.” After a while, your dog will come most of the time when you just give the verbal command. Again, the goal is that you do not have to stop while your dog investigates that bush or interesting smell. (Of course, if the smell is particularly fascinating, you may still need to add the gentle tug.)
If your dog is trotting ahead (or flat-out running as Watson sometimes does), a gentle tug before they hit the end of the leash will lessen the risk that either you or your dog will be yanked off their feet.
Tip #5: Vary your route.
One of the things I hate about exercise is it’s boring.
To lessen that boredom, I have several routes that I can choose from, so that I’m not looking at the same scenery and my dog isn’t smelling the same smells every time. These routes are of varying lengths, for 20-minute to 45-minute walks.
A brisk walk, averaging 30 minutes a day, is a great way to help keep yourself and your dog reasonably fit.
Oh, and don’t forget to take a poop bag, just in case!
And here are some great books for dog lovers (and a couple of special bargains)!
Please visit our Books For Dog Lovers page for book descriptions, Amazon reviews, and links to purchase April’s featured books. If you would like to learn more about the authors in our group, please visit our Meet The Authors page.
Here are the books with special pricing in April:
Keeping Your Dog at a Healthy Weight
By Rachele Baker, DVM
ON SALE for 99 cents April 15-22
Trouble At The Kennel: A Cedar Bay Cozy Mystery
By Dianne Harman
And of course, To Kill A Labrador is just $0.99