Practical Dog Training Tips for Busy People: P is for Places You Walk

#AtoZ Challenge: P is for Places You Walk

Change up where you go with your dog for walks. Vary their sniffs. Vary the distractions. Vary the scenery. Your dog will love exploring new places and you'll be less bored too.

If you absolutely cannot vary up where you take your dog for a walk, even temporarily, at least take different routes or rest in different spots.

Advantages to new walking environments

You get to practice how you calm your dog and get them re-focused on the task at hand. 

Your dog will be excited when you arrive at a new place to walk. When you enter the new place, begin with an engagement session. Reward your dog with "Yes!" (or your positive marker word), praise, pets, and even treats.

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My absolute favorite training treats are Wet Noses Little Stars. These teeny tiny stars are about 1/4" in diameter, so I can reward both of the dogs over and over on our walks without spoiling their appetites. Even better, these treats are certified USDA Organic and verified as a non-GMO pet product.


The new environment will have different smells, sights, and sounds that your dog will find incredibly enticing. When you ask your dog to practice skills in this stimulating place, they will really have to think about what you're asking because the squirrels, flowers, and trash cans are all calling out to your dog. A thinking dog who is also exercising will be a tired dog later!

As you walk with your dog, ask him to practice a few skills you know he’s got down cold. Then work in some practice with a newer cue.

If he’s truly confused, consider that you may have generalized this skill to early to the whole world. Give your dog more time to practice at home, and just outside your home before embarking on your walk. Once your dog can successfully demonstrate the behavior inside and in the driveway, he’s much more likely able to show you his skill at a random stop on your walk.

Walking in new places is a great way to practice neutral dog skills.

You'll pass different dogs. If you're working on your dog's reaction to other dogs, then walking only in your neighborhood is counter-productive long-term. You may want to start in your neighborhood with helping your dog ignore the other neighborhood dogs. At some point, though, your dog will know the neighborhood dogs, so ignoring them may not be much of a challenge. By branching out to different places, you're giving your dog the chance to practice that skill authentically.

You’ll never get bored with walking if you change the scenery.

Your dog will be happier and I bet you will be too. You'll get to see different pieces of art, plants, and buildings. You'll be increasing your knowledge about your city. You'll find new quiet spots to rest and maybe get a special picture of your pup. 

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Pedestrian safety may be something you want to consider.

You could also be selecting safer walks. I don't know about where you live, but Arizona has the highest pedestrian fatality rate in the country. We had been in third place, but being such a haven for progress, Arizonan drivers decided to speed toward the number one ranking! After nearly being hit multiple times by distracted drivers who do not respect traffic signals or a pedestrian crossing with the light in the crosswalk, I decided to cut out walks where I have to be on constant alert for idiot drivers.

Want to know how your state ranks for pedestrian death? Check out the Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities by State: 2017 Preliminary Data prepared for the Governors Highway Safety Association.

Tips for finding new walking routes

Practical Dog Training Tips for Busy People - P is for Places You Walk. If your dog gets a daily walk, then trying new routes will help you find the time to challenge your dog every day. Even if your training lasts for just a few minutes! Read more at McSquare Doodles! #McSquareDoodles #dogtraining #dogtrainingtips #therapydogtraining

Pay attention to outdoor events.

Even if an event is not dog-friendly, you may be able to walk by on the sidewalk. The different sounds, sights, and smells will pique your dog's interest, so that's a great time to test how well your dog has mastered a new skill.

Live music events make great environments for a quick training session. You get to choose how close or how far you stand from the music. Plus if you’re practicing for Canine Good Citizen or therapy dog certification, the audience applause provides enough startling noise to test how your dog reacts. Again, you get to decide the distance between the distracting noise and your dog.

Check out your city or county government webpages for a list of dog parks and parks that are dog-friendly.

Explore a variety of parks in your area. You'll find some you love, so you'll work them into your walking destination rotation. Others you'll visit once and you may never go back.

Use more general Internet resources to find dog-friendly places to take your dog for a walk or a hike.

Use Google Maps and scroll around.

If you're going anywhere with your dog, look at Google Maps to see what the surrounding neighborhood looks like. You may discover parks, walking paths, or dog-friendly stores that you didn’t know were there.

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Practical Dog Training Tips for Busy People - P is for Places You Walk. If your dog gets a daily walk, then trying new routes will help you find the time to challenge your dog every day. Even if your training lasts for just a few minutes! Read more at McSquare Doodles! #McSquareDoodles #dogtraining #dogtrainingtips #therapydogtraining

What's your favorite walking route? How did you find it?
Please share in the comments.