dog and ownerIf you are the proud pet parent to an energetic canine, you probably enjoyed a walk with your dog this morning… What? No? You didn’t?

Our best friends seem to be an endless source of walking exuberance, but somehow in the middle of snow and cold weather or in our busy schedules, we have lost interest and motivation for those important dog walks.

There are times when it isn’t safe to walk your dog – below freezing temperatures or during a winter storm, for example. In most cases, however – and with a fitted dog jacket and booties for those short haired and tiny pups – the benefits far outweigh the excuses.

So, why not take January’s National Walk Your Pet Month’s celebratory cue, and infuse some new energy into those daily dog walks. Here are some creative ideas to get you started!

  • Change it up – Your dog gets sick of treading the same old path day-in and day-out, too. Instead of the well-worn path, why not choose a different route each day, or alternate routes every few days to keep the sights (and those wonderful doggie smells) interesting. Or, better still, let your dog lead the way!
  • Invite a friend with a dog – Need help staying motivated or socializing your dog? Consider starting a neighborhood dog walking club or invite a fellow pet parent along for those morning strolls.
  • Get back to nature – If your pet loves to run, how about a weekly trip to a safe off-leash park or preserve where he or she can run until his heart’s content. You may also find yourself feeling more relaxed, listening to the birds sing and the sun rise over the tree line.
  • Combine activities – Many times we lament that we don’t have enough time when it comes to dog walks or outdoor exercise. Instead of foregoing your pet’s walk or that must-do chore, combine it with another activity, like dropping off dry cleaning or visiting a family member.
  • Join a dog walking or dog breed social groupMeetup has hundreds of groups devoted to specific breeds or activities, such as hiking with dogs. It’s a great way to make friends, socialize your dog, and stay motivated with your pet’s exercise needs.
  • Take up jogging or biking – Some pet parents find extra motivation and increased fitness by jogging or biking with their dogs. For larger or high energy breeds, the increased pace can add to the enjoyment and health benefits.

A Word About Leashes

While we are on the topic of dog walking, what about the most important tool of the trade – the leash. For most dogs, a sturdy nylon or leather collar and flat leash are a perfect combo, proving security and just enough distance for your pet to feel comfortable.

For dogs with leash walking challenges or a tendency to pull or run ahead, many owners have found the body harness/leash combo to be helpful in maintaining control while keeping your dog safe from accident or injury.

Unfortunately, retractable leashes, or flexi-leads, are still very popular among pet parents. The appeal of these leashes (greater range of movement) is, in fact, their downfall, in many cases. Numerous pet injuries and even deaths have been associated with retractable leash accidents – including strangulation, cord breaks, lacerations, and too much leeway. But these leashes aren’t just associated with pet accidents! Pet owners and unsuspecting pedestrians have also been injured by cord “snap-backs”, cuts, and injuries sustained by unexpected and sudden cord tension.

To keep your pet, yourself, and other people safe from possible injury, we recommend a sturdy 4-6 foot flat leash. If your pet still needs some helping learning how to walk on a leash or respond to your command, we encourage you to sign him or her up with Perfect Paws Pet Training to help you and your dog better enjoy those daily walks.

Whether you’re a dog walking novice or have been walking with your best friend for years, we hope you will take the theme of National Walk Your Pet Month to heart and be inspired to exercise with your favorite pet pal each day. Happy walking!