We've all been there: it's Monday morning, you've just got off of work, you're walking your dog and are counting down the minutes until it's time to go home. You love your pooch - you would do anything for them - but you're just so bored walking the same route seeing the same things every day!
This is completely natural and almost everyone who has a dog for long enough will experience this feeling at some point. We've put together a list of some interesting twists you can use to add some variety to your daily walk and hopefully help you keep your sanity!
Below is a handy shortcut menu we've put together for your convenience:
Nothing passes the time like listening to your favorite podcast - and lucky you, podcasts are huge right now! There's a psychological trick you can use to make yourself look forward to walking your dog more.
Find a podcast that you will only listen to on your walks; its episodes must be longer than your average walk time. When you pause the show at the end of your walk, you'll be left wondering "What happens next?" and will being to look forward to tomorrow's walk.
Have you heard about Geocaching? If not you're missing out! Simply put, it's the act of finding secret caches (usually containing trinkets or a note of the people who have previously found it) scattered around the world.
Seriously, there are a lot of them and most-likely there are plenty near you. Looking for geocaches is fun and interesting and, considering that there are many of them placed in parks and outdoor areas, it naturally pairs with dog walks.
Does your pooch need to learn to relax? Perhaps you do?? Try sprinkling in short meditation sessions throughout your walk. This will most-likely be more of a challenge for your dog than you as they usually associate the outside with movement.
Start with short sessions of 2 to 3 minutes and work your way up to 20 or 30 minute sessions. You'll enjoy the many benefits of meditation while teaching your dog self-control.
One of the best ways to make walking your dog more interesting is to go with a group. You have many options here - you can go with your children, a local walking group, your co-workers, and so on. You'll hardly notice the time pass by as your brain will be engaged in conversation.
If you enjoy running then this is a great way to spice things up. You'll both get the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle and your walk will go quicker as well! Start out covering small distances and work your way up - after all, when you began running you didn't just start running a 5K but instead worked your way up to it, right?
For added motivation check out the app Zombies, Run!, think of it as an audiobook mixed with a running app. It's a series of missions that narrate your journey as "Runner 5", a survivor of the zombie apocalypse, who goes on running missions to gather resources for their outpost and uncovers mysteries in the process.
Keep in mind that simply because your furry friend is a member of the Canis Familiaris family does not automatically guarantee that running is good for them. Just like it's fair to say that while running is good for humans it is not good for _all_ humans, so the same goes with dogs.
If your dog is very young or very old, has joint problems, is sick, has short legs compared to the rest of their body like a Chihuahua, or has a short snout such as a Bulldog then running may do them more harm than good. Use your best judgment here.
Go to a dog-friendly outdoor festival, it will be good socialization for your dog and certainly you will be engaged by the sights and sounds.
If you live near hilly terrain consider taking your dog with you on a short hike. They'll be in their natural element - completely surrounding by nature - and you'll get some great exercise out of it as well.
Break up your walk with obedience training - this can be as simple or as complex as you'd like ranging from using treats to reward basic behaviors such as sit, stay, and lie down to more complex things such as setting up a mini agility course - just be aware of common etiquette if you'll be taking your pooch to the dog park.
For an added challenge you could equip your pup with a dog backpack so they have a job to do. Such backpacks can typically be weighted so your dog will burn some extra calories and be more exhausted at the end of the walk.
Participate in crowdsourced science - make the world a better place and have fun doing it! For example, bumblebeewatch.org is a "collaborative effort to track and conserve North America’s bumble bees" through citizen-uploaded photographs of bumblebee sightings. There are many more such projects, just google "citizen science projects" to get started.
Let your dog lead for a change - their smell is several orders of magnitude better than ours and they are able to sense many nuances that we'd never catch. They'll be more engaged and more tired after the walk as tracking things down by smell requires a lot of energy for them.
Switch up your routine - oftentimes our boredom comes from the monotony of following the same pattern every day. If you walk in the evening, switching to a morning walk will expose you to schoolchildren waiting for the bus, delivery vehicles, and lots of people.
On the other hand, if you're a morning walker, going in the evening will give you a chance to enjoy some peace and quiet and to wind down for the day.
One of the ways that boredom emerges is when we are not challenging ourselves - who says that the only time for walks is on a clear, sunny day with 75F weather? Go when it's hot, when it's cold, when it's raining, or when it's dark - just be prepared and make sure that it's safe for your dog.
The experience may not feel pleasant when you start but you'll soon feel a sense of accomplishment for being able to tackle the elements and taking more control over your life.
There's no reason why you can't mix nearby errands and dog walking. Maybe you have a package to deliver to the post office, you need to pick up some minor things from the grocery store, or you need to pick up your mail from the mailbox - you get the idea, everyday chores that require walking.
We oftentimes don't look forward to doing these things but having a dog around will lighten your mood and make such tasks less tedious.
If you always walk your dog in parks and the wilderness then taking them into an urban environment will be a nice change of pace.
You'll both be more engaged with all the extra sights and sounds - just make sure your dog is comfortable walking in a downtown setting first as some dogs are used to a peaceful and quiet walking experience and may get stressed out by this new setting.
This one's pretty self-explanatory - walk your routes backwards. It might seem like you'd be just as bored walking clockwise vs. counter-clockwise around the same park but you never know - you might see something new given the change in perspective.
I really like this one: give yourself $1 for every 1 km walked then, when you have enough saved up, indulge a little and buy something you've been craving. An alternative unit is time - say for every 15 minutes give yourself a monetary reward.
Play around with the reward amount and units - just don't sabotage yourself. A reward should be a challenge to obtain, otherwise there's no joy once you reach your goal.
The average dog owner spends over 120 hours walking their dog over the course of a year. If you're always lamenting that there's not enough time to catch up with old friends and colleagues you have no excuse now!
A daily, fifteen minute call can do wonders for any relationship - and it will help you improve your conversation skills as too often these days we communicate by more impersonal methods such as email and text.
If you're a fitness nut you might enjoy quantifying your daily walks. Most modern phones come with pedometers that can track your route, calories burned, and your pace. Challenge yourself to finish your route faster and share routes with friends. Regular walks are critical for good health into old age.
Most-people tend to underestimate how much they're walking and regularly fall short of the magical 10000 daily steps. A pedometer will help you quantify your walks and aid you in making realistic goals instead of just guessing and hoping that you're making progress.
Coffee shops are so overdone, you can't talk during a movie, and everyone and their mother has done the boardgame cafe first date. If you want to truly be original suggest a dog walk. The experience will give you both something to do and helps ease first-date jitters.
You'll have more things to talk about as you'll constantly be exposing yourself to new stimuli instead of being stuck in a closed off coffee shop, and you'll be out in nature. Try it and thank me later!
If you're walking your dog out in nature (as opposed to an urban setting such as a downtown) then why not take advantage of all the beauty around you. There's so much to see and oftentimes we don't even think to look. Moose, deer, eagles, beavers, and so much more can be found if you just have the right equipment.
Are you a budding photographer? Or perhaps you have a few years of experience under your belt? Why not take a camera and capture the beautiful scenery around you.
Even if you've never tried before it's easier than ever with smartphones that contain high-quality cameras. Worst case is you'll get some cute dog photos that you can send to family.
There are lots of dog-friendly fundraising walks year-round such as "Paws for a Cause" - the annual British Columbia fundraising walk to fight animal cruelty. Most major cities have similar walks, just do some googling and you're sure to find something near you.
In addition, checkout WoofTrax and ResQwalk - they're apps that allow you to fundraise for your favorite organizations by walking your dog.
Volunteer to take a friend's dog along with you on your daily walk - it will change up the dynamic and your dog will have some company to keep him engaged. It will also give you a good opportunity to study dog body language.
By now you can see the majority of these involve mixing other, more interesting activities, with your walks or switching up your existing routine to add a bit of variety.
Have you had any luck with a particular strategy that we've missed? Let us know and we'll add it to the list!