#AtoZ Challenge: 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

Your dog will be excited when you arrive at a new place to walk. You get to practice how you calm your dog and get them re-focused on the task at hand. 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.

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!

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.

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. 

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

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.

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 like GoPetFriendly, BringFido, TripAdvisor, and AllTrails 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. When I took Bernie downtown to meet some blogger friends for brunch, I noticed that there's a cute Little Free Library a few blocks away. Bernie and I arrived early downtown because we wanted to walk over to the Little Free Library and check it out. By the time we arrived at brunch, Bernie was pretty calm and ready to settle on the patio.

 #AtoZChallenge - P  is for Places You Walk - Practical Dog Training Tips for Busy People on McSquare Doodles

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