Lockdown has taught me to rediscover the world around us
Without a doubt being the current pandemic is the strangest things I, and I expect many of us have been through in our lifetime. Within a few days and weeks so much had changed, for many of us our daily routine was completely different. I was no longer out all day, walking dogs in fun and exciting places. Instead I was relegated to walking once a day with my own dogs in my local area.
There are of course some positives. I was excited to be able to spend more time with just me and my dogs, something I am always struggling to do. But I instantly missed being in fun places, having the freedom to explore different spaces. This is something that’s fun for me, not just the dogs. I get bored easily.
I am not a fan of walking in my local area. There isn’t anything that I would call exciting with regards to green spaces. That said, I am always that anywhere and anytime can be an adventure, you just have to think outside the box at how to bring the fun!
Firstly, we went to explore more of our local area. Maybe I have taken being able to jump in the van and go wherever we please for granted. It turns out there’s a lovely river walk not too far from me. It’s a longer walk, but it is one we can do from out front door and makes a welcome change to the local park. Don’t be afraid to take longer walks than you’re used to, you never know what you might discover! That said, I spoke with the Canine Arthritis Management who said this should not be a problem for healthy fit dogs, but if your dog is young, older or has joint issues ensure you are listening to them. If they start to struggle you really need to turn back and resting or low impact exercise the next day is a good idea.
Change it up. Try going different ways on different days. Join smaller walks together or alternate between shorter walks and longer walks. Even if you can only get two different walks out of your local area you can alternate.
I have rediscovered in this time how much I love parkour. I’ve always loved parkour, and some places are better than others that’s true. But parkour is about looking at what is in front of you and thinking about how you could use it differently. Theo, Molly and I have had great fun using bollards as agility weaves, fences to jump over and under, rocks to jump on. Whatever you can think of, use imagination, and stay safe, but explore everything around you in every way you can.
Playing games can make even the smallest of areas into a decent length walk. A ‘walk’ doesn’t have to be all moving and walking. Walks are a time for dogs to be able to express their natural behaviours such as sniffing, digging, exploring. Help your dog with these, give them something to explore, go with them! Climb the steps together, get into that path you never go down (stay safe of course!). Scatter feed, hide toys, run around and play. This is still a great opportunity to spend time with and bond with your dog.
Most of all, remember that this is your dogs walk, let him choose how long he sniffs for, where he sniffs and which direction to go. This can be a great confidence builder. I was listening to a podcast featuring vet and neuroscientist Kathy Murphy, she laughed at herself for forgetting that a walk for our dog starts when we step foot outside the door. I laughed, because I forget this too – all too often we think of our destination (i.e. the park) but for the dog it can be just as exciting and enriching to sniff the world just outside our front door. As always, adventure is about the journey not the destination and there’s still so much to enjoy and explore. Stay safe.