In our busy lives, it’s easy for dog walks to slip by in a hurry or be put off until tomorrow, but with the average dog walk lasting just 20 minutes (despite advice that we should walk our canine companions for up to two hours a day) now is the time to think a little differently about your daily dog walk…
We've created six easy tips to help you and your four-legged friend reap the benefits of regular daily exercise.
1. Make a commitment to others
Science shows that we’re less likely to back down on our promises if others know we’ve committed. That’s why people post selfies in the gym – to prove they’re there! Even better - find a friend or family member to dog walk with as an ‘accountability buddy’.
2. Make it stimulating
Keep a bag full of healthy dog treats on you during walks. They’re a great way of encouraging and rewarding good behaviour from your dog, to make walks more enjoyable for you and those around you. You can even crush up a few and hide them in grass or bushes along the way, for more enjoyable sniffing stimulation for your four-legged friend.
3. Be flexible
Don’t let feeling unwell, running late, or a surprise meeting mean you lose one of your walks in the week. Try splitting your walking time to better fit your busy routine. If you only have time for a 10-minute walk, that’s okay - it’s better than nothing and you can just add to it later in the day.
4. Need a nudge
Although it’s good to be flexible, it can be worth setting walkie reminders in your phone too, just like you would for an appointment. But be realistic - if you’re not a morning person; don’t plan your walks for an early 6am start – the duvet will win! And think about potential pitfalls. For instance, if you know that nothing gets done when the kids get home from school, don’t tell yourself it's going to be your walk time.
5. Be mindful
Don’t just stick your headphones on or check your phone. Use your walks to appreciate your dog, the environment, and the precious ‘you’ time. Look at the leaves, listen to the birds, take some deep breaths. You can even slow down your pace for a while and concentrate on the here and now.
6. Be inspired
Although we’re creatures of habit, walking in the same places gets boring. Explore your local area and try new places - the National Trust’s ‘Best places for dog walking’ is packed with inspiration and ideas around the UK.
For more great tips and advice on making the most of your precious dog-walking time, check out our Great Dog Walk Challenge page here.