Baston animal behaviour expert Karen Wild on making autumn dog walks fun
When it’s raining out, foggy, damp… we sometimes look at our dogs and wonder whether or not they ‘really’ want that walk or not, says animal behaviour expert Karen Wild.
If you have an old, very young or water-averse dog then maybe not sometimes, but other times, you can make your walks fun for you even when your dog is joyfully splashing around in leafy puddles this autumn! So – let’s make our walks fun for us all.
Before you start, even on a cooler day, take water with you for both of you. Offer water to your dog frequently. If your dog doesn’t want it, that’s fine, but at least you gave the chance to have a cool drink. It’s not like your dog can pop open the drinking bottle by themselves. You should always offer, and if you don’t normally – start now. Also take your own drink with you, ideally a warm one in a flask you can sip from. Nothing nicer than to have a bit of a hot chocolate or coffee whilst admiring the autumn leaves.
Friendly dogs make good walking chums. If you know your dog is happy with other dogs around, why not start a dog walking ‘project’ and invite friends along. It will make the dog walks more appealing and fun, and encourage you out in all weathers as you form a little group of happy dog and human friends. Please avoid crazy ‘pack walks’ where everyone just lets their dogs charge around, because this isn’t teaching them useful skills. Sociable doesn’t mean barging or chasing. But a nice interesting shared sniffy walk is a great, healthy experience.
Just go round your walk in the opposite direction. No, I don’t mean walk backwards! Instead of turning right, turn left from your normal walk. Your dog may wonder at first why they aren’t going the usual way, but new smells will soon distract them.
Sniffy walk. This walk is all about your dog. No more pulling them away from scents. Allow them as much time as they want to have a really good sniff as you all enjoy a little more of the environment. Let them sniff and hunt for as long as your normal walk time, then go home. Take a really good look at the kinds of things your dog sniffs at. It’s very interesting and often far more than just the obvious lamp posts.
Let the dog drive the walk. Let your dog show you the walk route for a while. Of course, walking onto people’s private property is a definite no, and be safe around roads. It’s amazing where you end up (and don’t let them get you lost!).
This little ‘sniffari’ (safari for sniffs) will teach you all about what your dog is looking for and wants to enjoy… and maybe these wet weather walks won’t seem quite so moody after all!