5 exercises for more fun walks with your dog
Dogs love to spend time with their owners and in Sweden we often go for long walks with our dogs. But we don't always engage with the dog, so here are some simple exercises that you can do together on your walks.
Look for treats
Always have treats with you on your walks. This is great both for rewarding good behaviours that your dog offers on the walk but also a way of giving your dog a task. You can either toss a treat into tall grass, pick treats out of trees and logs or place treats by park benches. Nosing is very good for your dog's wellbeing but also to get them to use their head a little better.
If you have a dog that gets anxious at dog encounters or in certain situations, a treat search can be a good way to distract your dog.
Ask your dog to jump up on logs and rocks to help them learn to balance. Maybe you find a falling tree somewhere, logs and rocks that your dog can try to jump between, or you have a park bench or similar where you can practice balancing. This exercise boosts both the dog's confidence and you strengthen your cooperation together.
Let the dog track
It's easy to start tracking with your dog. Find a spot in the woods or somewhere with higher grass. Mark your starting point and then walk a loop, putting treats under each footstep. Then walk around your track and let your dog sniff for the treats. Your dog will learn here to sniff for your footprints and will associate it with treats. This is the first step to teaching your dog to walk longer trails, if you want to in the future. This exercise will boost your dog's confidence and nose work will make your dog content and calm after the walk.
Hide in the woods
If you have the opportunity to walk your dog loose in the woods, you can try hiding from your dog. Some dogs take a long way from their owners and hiding is a great way to let your dog find you. However, it is important that the dog does not get scared and worried when you play this so hide in an easy place to start with.
If you have a dog that doesn't get very far away from you in the woods, this could be an exercise for you to have fun in the woods together. Try your best to hide from your dog and you will find that your dog is surprised and finds it fun to run after you.
This exercise will of course increase your cooperation but is also a good way for dogs who can wander off on their own in the woods to keep a better eye on mum and dad. Watch your dog as it looks for you, does it use its nose, eyes or sniff the air to catch you?
Look for toys
For those dogs who love to look for things, this is a super fun exercise. Either you've previously laid out some toys along your walk or you manage to hide some while your dog is busy doing other things. You can release your dog to find the toys or you can "accidentally" step over a toy and start playing with it. Surprises are definitely a fun way to activate your dog on a walk.