6 Tips For Keeping Your Boredom-Prone Dog Motivated On His Walk
Doing the same thing every single day can get boring.
Even things we love to do can get repetitive. The same goes for our dogs.
My dog, Guinness, loves spending time with me and taking a trip out into the world. He's Mr. Enthusiasm, in fact. But once we get out, sometimes he just doesn’t feel like walking.
His energy level is fine (he has a hypothyroid issue but he’s on his medication and is doing well). His nails are trimmed (if they get too long they can bother him on his walk). There’s nothing irritating or bothering his paws.
No, the boy is just bored. If you have a big dog like 110-pound Guinness—or even a very strong small one—it’s not the easiest thing to make him walk if he’s not feeling it. And dragging him is not a good option. So what should you do?
Necessity being the mother of invention and all, I’ve had to get rather creative on our walks. Here are 6 tricks that have worked for me.
Fortunately, Guinness is a very treat-motivated dog. If there is a treat in his general vicinity, his eyes are intently fixed on it. So, as we walk, I am continuously giving him treats from my treat pouch for heeling nicely at my side, completely focused on me (well, OK, on my treats).
If your dog is more toy-motivated, bring a bouncy or squeaky ball on his walk. Many dogs enjoy carrying a ball in their mouth while they walk and will be quite entertained doing so. He can squeak it or drop it and scurry after it. The idea that he may get to play fetch with it in the near future will motivate him even more. So throw it around for him at some point as a reward.
Your walk is a great time to brush up on some training or teach a new skill. In addition to heel, I’ll have Guinness sit, move to my left and right on command, focus his eyes on mine, and a number of other tricks and skills he’s learned. It keeps him engaged and he enjoys the interaction. And, of course, he gets more treats.
Mix Up the Route
Even walking in the opposite direction than we’ve been walking can make a difference in Guinness’s experience. Go somewhere different on your trail or go to a different trail altogether. Take him to a pet-friendly place like a pet store or outdoor retail center where he can enjoy all new smells. Try splitting up your walk if you can—take one in the morning and another in the afternoon. This is particularly helpful for dogs that get an evening burst of energy.
Change Your Speed
One way I can usually get Guinness going when he’s slowing down or stopping is by engaging him in a quick jog. Odd, I know, but it works. Keep your dog guessing by rotating between walking slow, speeding up and running. You can teach him the command for each speed and turn it into a fun game.
Invite Someone New
I rarely see Guinness with more energy on his walk than when someone comes along with us. Suddenly he can walk 6 miles when he usually does 3. If there’s another dog, he’s got the energy of a 6-month-old puppy. And then I’m being dragged. So bring a friend or family member along to entertain the both of you.
Walking a dog who doesn’t want to walk is fun for no one. So keep things interesting and your dog will keep moving.
Jessica Peralta has been a journalist for more than 15 years and an animal lover all her life. She has had dogs, cats, birds, turtles, fish, frogs, and rabbits. Her current children are a German shepherd named Guinness and a black kitten named Riot (and he lives up to that name). It’s because of her love for animals that she focused her journalistic career to the world of holistic animal care and pet nutrition. In between keeping Riot and Guinness out of mischief, she’s constantly learning about all the ways she can make them healthier and happier.