On Walkabout

My mom and I recently followed a path through a grove of trees. While she craned her neck identifying the timber, I watched birds, sniffed new smells and lunged toward lizards blocking my way. Certainly not our usual neighborhood stroll.

The first week of October is National Walk Your Dog Week, an important reminder to canine guardians that exercise is vital for a healthy pup.

Many owners make the mistake of thinking that a romp in the yard with playmates is sufficient exercise. But recess doesn’t boost cardio as much as a walk, and backyard time is usually consumed with sniffing and sunbathing–guilty. Walking not only gets your pooch’s blood flowing, heart pumping and calories burning, it can help get the digestive system moving, great for dogs that have been experiencing, ahem, digestive backup.

Giving your dog a chance to see the wider world provides him with a mental health boost, too. Covering fresh ground on a walk lets your dog investigate new and interesting sights, smells and sounds.

It takes just 30 minutes a day of walking to improve heart health and curb behavioral problems. So grab your leash and get ready to move your paws with these helpful hacks.

Follow His NoseLet your dog lead the way. He might take you to a scurry of squirrels, and mark every bush down the lane, but letting him choose gives him a chance to show you what he finds interesting.

Stop and Sniff When dogs use their noses, their brains are working at a mad pace analyzing different odors. Allowing your canine to have a sniff fest will leave him extra-tired and less likely to redesign your living room.

Rev it Up Make your walk more fun by stepping up your pace from time to time. Short bursts of speed let dogs stretch muscles and burn excess energy, especially after eating too many treats.

Walk Somewhere New Dogs get bored with the same old routine, so mix up the route once in a while. Try walking in a different direction, or visit a local park or trail. Your dog will be exposed to new sights and smells, different dogs and different people.

Obey Leash Laws It takes only one distraction for things to go sideways. Leash laws aren’t in place just to keep dogs from being nuisances—they’re created to keep dogs safe.

Practice Obedience Doing basic commands in new areas is an easy way to reinforce obedience. Start with simple concepts, like ‘sit’ and ‘stay,’ and soon your dog will obey no matter what’s going on around him.

Use Lights after Dark When daylight starts to dwindle, use wearable lights or reflective gear to keep both of you safe
and seen.

You love your dog, so go the extra mile and get the most out of your walks. The exercise is good for you and Tramp, and since you can do it almost anywhere, possibilities are endless. It’s not where you walk, it’s who you walk with that matters.


Davi the dachshund knows that his leash is always in good hands.