Having a dog can be challenging if you’re still getting used to it. Training a dog can be even more challenging. With our stress-packed lives as Covid cases seem to be on the up and down, dog owners tend to struggle even more with maintaining a dog’s social and physical health. But as Covid restrictions seem to be lifting, now would be the time to take your dog out even more!
Dog walking is no simple feat; it requires a lot of mental capacity from the companion and a lot of love, affection, and skills.
Understanding the dog’s body language, needs, behaviour, and more are the basics of dog walking. Learning what they need and when are also skills that need to be nurtured, and they take time and experience, but this guide is here to help!
There are many great locations in Qatar to walk your dog and experience the winter weather. Places such as Al Bidda Park or Oxygen are great for allowing your dog to sniff and explore safely on a leash while exposing your dog to new stimuli such as kids, other dogs, scooters and more. However, there are cases where dogs feel uncomfortable walking in certain areas or at a specific pace, and that’s where understanding your dog comes into play.
Your dog might prefer morning walks, while other dogs favour the afternoon or evenings. There are patterns to what your dog might enjoy, but developing those patterns is key to a pet’s satisfaction.
A walking schedule mostly depends on the dog temperament, energy levels, and age, but an average-sized adult dog would need roughly an hour of walking and sniffing a day. If that can’t be accommodated, it can also be compensated with enrichment activities or games. The hour-long walk can be split over the day, so you ensure frequent stimulation and potty breaks. Thus, the optimal daily number of walks for the average dog is three to four walks that sum up to one hour. Don’t forget to include outings to the park or beach whenever you can.
THINGS TO AVOID DOING
Often people get the urge to pat a dog’s head when they see one walking down the street or they casually step into their personal space by committing an unwanted gesture. Although most dogs appreciate a stroke, not all dogs are comfortable with that. Keep in mind to ask before approaching a dog. If you notice a dog guardian stopping to let you pass or trying to walk away from you to add distance for their dog, be mindful and respect that. Some dogs need space to learn about our human world.
Make sure to avoid using your phone while walking your dog and pay them attention. That’s mainly for two reasons. It’s your dog’s walk! Be present and engage with your dog instead of being glued to your screen. Keep an eye on your dog and your surroundings. Pesticides or food leftovers are often ingested in the blink of an eye.
THINGS TO DO
Dogs have great instincts, which come from their supernatural senses of hearing and smell. So, giving them an outlet for their urge to explore and scavenge is the key to a happy dog. Equip yourself with a 3m training leash (non-retractable) and let your dog lead the way whenever safe.
Unlike popular belief, allowing your dog to walk ahead and “just be a dog” is extremely powerful, relationship boosting and fulfils several of the basic needs of a dog. When allowing your dog to run a “sniffer” on a long leash, be sensible of others, meaning shorten the leash when passing dogs and people.
It goes without saying that a harness, long leash, and treats are the essential tools to bring along on a walk.
For more dog-related topics, follow Jasmin Maier (The Pawkeeper) at her social media handles;