5 fun things to do with your dog on a lead!
Here's our top 5 fun activities to try on a walk with your dog on lead:
Let your dog lead the way! With the correct planning and understanding of an area, this can be a great way to experience a unique walk! Be mindful of any areas that could prove hazardous on the walk, such as bodies of water, high drops etc. Be sure to tell friends/family the rough area you are going. Arrive, clip your dog onto a lead which is long enough to give them some freedom (fixed long leads are great for this!), then follow where your dog takes you and see what you discover!
A walk can be a great opportunity to start teaching your dog new cues or tricks! Bear in mind that on a very exciting walk, surrounded by other dogs and people, your dog may be less engaged with you! Why not try and find a quiet area and train something novel? Spin/rollover/high five/a stationary wait can all be built up over time, and lead to fantastic levels of engagement for you both!
These tricks may just seem like a bit of fun, but they can be useful too. Essentially, dogs need to learn how to learn! This means, that by training more cues you will help your dog engage with you and work out what you are asking of them. Consider your environment for this step, remember training in a well-known, less distracting environment like your home, will tend to be more productive to start with, than an exciting new area!
3. Balance work
Whilst on a lead, you can confidently and safely, work on your dog’s balance and foot placement skills. Unfortunately, each year we hear of dogs falling to their deaths/getting injured from running over edges/slipping and falling whilst climbing. Teaching a dog to co-ordinate where their feet go and where they end up is actually incredibly beneficial to a dog from a safety aspect.
To begin these excises, you can start asking your dog to balance and sit on nice easy platforms along your walk such as tree stumps, large rocks and benches. The goal is to do this safely! So start on items that will not injure your dog if they slip/fall (low height items). You can progress this along your walks, see what your dog is capable of and work to push it on at a safe rate, where you are comfortable that they can manage it. Watch their skill develop!
4. Meeting other dogs!
On-lead-meets are still perfectly possible in the correct situation. The key to these greetings is consideration! Remember there could be a number of reasons why a dog is on lead, they could be elderly, in training, recovering from an illness or reactive. Always ask first.
If both parties are happy with the greeting to go ahead, it should last no more than 3 seconds. As the dogs greet, silently count to 3 in your head and then move off. This rule is a brilliant way to stop greetings lasting too long and building to frustration/overstimulation or anxiety. The natural way for dogs to greet is side on, this allows them to sniff each other. Whilst on lead their natural greeting position is influenced so they meet face on, which can be very confronting for dogs, which is why short and sweet lead greetings are key!
If an owner says their dog is reactive and greeting is a bad idea, try to give them some room - walk past or let them pass you. You can use treats to engage with your dog and carry on the walk after.
5. Wildlife watching and relaxing
A walk with your dog can often be a way for you to relax as well. In Japan, ‘forest bathing’ is a common activity with studies showing that even 15 minutes a week out in nature can have a positive effect on mental health by reducing stress levels.
Whilst out enjoying nature, a big draw is the potential to see wildlife. Nothing beats an early morning walk in spring, listening to the morning chorus of our native bird life. See which animals you can spot or hear whilst out with your dog. This can be great fun for the whole family! By keeping your dog close to you and on a lead, you are far more likely to see interesting species with the added bonus of ensuring your dog doesn’t chase, worry or kill anything. This is particularly important around ground nesting birds and will help keep your dog safe from adder bites.