Stop and smell the roses.
Now you may be thinking what on earth does this have to do with walking my dog?? Well for me I think this expression has lots of relevance for our daily dog walks.
I know when I first became a dog owner I used to walk my dogs. This translated into me frog marching my dogs round the roads, the heath, beach etc. So my dogs got time out of the house, they certainly got some exercise but were the walks as enriching, rewarding and enjoyable for them as they could have been?? To be honest I doubt it.
Our lives tend to be so busy and so we are rushing here there and everywhere. We then come home and walk our dogs and it is hard to not follow the same pattern. If you have an hour to walk your dog. Why does it matter whether you travel 200 metres or 3 miles as long as your dog is happy, tired and settled when they get home? Most dogs spend approximately 23 hours at home so let this hour be their time to do what they love most.
I believe slow sniffy walks are seriously under rated. A slow sniffy walk can be just as rewarding and potentially more tiring than a walk where your dog just runs around like a headless chicken. Dog’s get so much information from being able to sniff in their environment. Think about your dog’s sniffing being the same as you opening and reading your email. Instead of email your dogs are reading and often returning pee mail. Add to this that sniffing is a calming activity for our dog’s which can lower their pulse rate and reduce anxiety. Sniffing also slows things down and can prevent your dog from getting over excited leading to a calmer dog at home.
Now when I walk Maya and have the time I literally let her pick the route. So we get to a junction and I ask which way and Maya will go the way she wants to. I also stop and wait or walk slowly while she sniffs so she feels no pressure to keep up which allows her to get the most value out of her sniffing time. A bit gross but the other day we came across a patch of blood on the pavement. I have no idea what it was from but with a road right next door it could have been an injured animal. We were there for quite a few minutes and Maya sniffed every centimetre and was absolutely fascinated. She came home and crashed out.
So in future when you walk your dog and have the time; slow down, let them pick their route and let them sniff.