To Walk or Not to Walk?

SPICE UP YOUR WESTIE’S ROUTINE

BY FAYE ANDREWS

A Healthier Lifestyle

Let’s start with diet. We all know how much better we feel when we eat healthily and cut out the sugary snacks/drinks and processed foods. We feel happier, healthier and have more energy, well this is the same for our furry companions too. Don’t get me wrong they will on occasion receive a ‘naughty’ treat, just as we as humans will perhaps turn to a piece of chocolate.

I believe the key to a healthy, happy life for ourselves and for our canines is that variety is the spice of life. So why not vary the activities with your dog? Rather than the same old walk in the same old park, go somewhere different, shorter walks, longer walks, swimming, agility (or just find some fallen trees in the park for them to explore and climb!). Our walks vary each week/each day. No two days are ever the same.

A Schedule of Fun

MONDAY: Ball day in the park

TUESDAY: Exploring the woods

WEDNESDAY: Rest day/home games

THURSDAY: Swimming

FRIDAY: Short walk (30 minutes)

SATURDAY: Long 2 hours walk incorporating woods and ball play

SUNDAY: Short walk (30 minutes) and home training

The above was our timetable for last week and any of these days can change spontaneously depending on how tired our Westies are. The variety keeps them interested in what we are doing or where we are going. Let’s face it, we have all been there or seen another owner in the park with their dog plodding along not really paying much notice to the owner. Would you find it exciting going to the same park or on the same walk each day? It frustrates me as it’s clear the dog doesn’t want to be there, especially when the owner is on the phone or chatting with a friend and not interacting with the dog. It’s easy to rectify, yes, your dog may be great at recall and commands, but to them it’s always exciting to please their owner, so try working on some commands, sit/stay/come at varying distances, and DO NOT forget to reward or praise them when they do what you have asked. Hide ‘n’ seek behind trees is also fun and keeps them working their senses. This helps to keep your bond strong and their minds active. Using their brains is just as rewarding and tiring for a dog as an hour walk in the park.

Is your Westie Enjoying It?

Dogs need mental stimulation so either on a physical rest day or a short walk day we work their little brains by working on commands, hide ‘n’ seek, hiding treats, the list is endless. A variety of activities will help your Westie stay fit and healthy by not overworking the same muscles all the time. Swimming will use different muscles to walking, running will use the same muscles as walking but some muscles are used more.

So next time you are out with your faithful companion ask yourself….do they look happy and interested? Am I bored of the same walk? What could I do to make the walk more fun? Parks will always have something, trees, fallen trees, benches, hills/mounds, the world is your oyster, but just as with humans who regularly train or exercise, rest days are just as important as any training plan. These days allow your body to recover, allow your muscles to relax and heal and energy levels to replenish. So, if we do it, why shouldn’t our dogs?