Friday, October 1, 2010

Motivating yourself to walk the dog

I don't mind walking a dog if the weather is nice and the dog is clearly ready to go out. A lot of times, I just have trouble getting going. It doesn't come easy, but I've done a few things to help ease the stress and reluctance of having to walk a dog.

So here is stuff that worked for me.

. Have items like leashes and plastic bags (for poo collection) handy. Having to look for and/or find misplaced items is a needless chore that only increases stress and aggravation. It puts you in a bad mood and increases your reluctance to walk the dog. And the last thing you want to do is take everything out on your dog. Just get in the habit of putting those leashes in a regular place all of the time.

. Bring a treat or toy for the dog and one for yourself. You may need to distract your dog from doing something that he or she tends to do outside, such as chasing small animals, rooting in garbage, barking at people, tugging on the leash, etc. My sister brings a cup of coffee sometimes. Mostly, she brings nonfood items such as her cellphone. Somehow, talking on a cellphone helps to pass time more easily when your dog lays on the lawn, examines an interesting blade of grass or smells its poo.

. Focus on using a longer or shorter route that you and your dog routinely take. Trust me, time will go faster. Sure, the dog will dawdle or have to poo along the way, but it will already be familiar with a given route. Why bring on additional stress by experimenting with a new route?

. Avoid using adjustable leashes. There's always a chance of malfunctioning. What happens when the leash is extended and you can't rein it in easily enough?  What happens when your dog wises up and winds up preferring to be on an permanently extended leash and resists a shorter one? Just thinking about that makes me tired and feel stressed out. Plus, leashes like that always have to be adjusted, so you have to worry about having your attention diverted for no good reason. Use a leather single-length leash. It's stronger and can be handled with more ease.

. Try to time the walk when you are not stressed out or aggravated or emotionally upset.  If you force the issue, you're more likely to take your stress or emotions out on the dog, which isn't fair to the animal. Choose another time or briefly allow your dog out in a protected backyard.

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