Our ‘Enrichment’ Walks
Sit. Smile. Wag.
Our walks are about more than just taking a casual stroll with your dog.
We often hear the saying, “a tired dog is a good dog,” but there is more to that statement than just exerted physical energy. If we want our dogs to be happy, healthy and mentally stimulated, than it isn’t necessarily about walking farther, it is about walking smarter. A mentally stimulated and tired dog is much more likely to relax comfortably and act-out less than a physically exhausted dog who has had a stressful day. Using walking time as training time is also a wonderful way to strengthen your bond with the dog—and this is exactly what we do!
At The Sophisticated Dog, when we snap that leash on to your dog, we aren’t just going for a stroll down the street with your pooch, we will be taking your dog on an enrichment walk. These walks ensure that your dog is mentally exercised along with the physical. We know that our dogs were originally bred to work cooperatively with humans and we feel that training time between us and your dog is a perfect way to honour that evolutionary history.
Why does this matter? If we take a bit of extra time to work with your dog on a walk, this means your dog has to concentrate more, focus on us, and filter out all the distractions around her. All this added concentration costs your dog energy. Simply put—the more we ask your dog to think, the more energy he will burn!
Sit. Smile. Wag.
How do we incorporate training into our walks with your dog? Here are a few examples of how we get the most out of the time spent with your dog.
- Name response. At random moments during a walk, we call your dog’s name. If they stop to look at us, we reward the dog’s good response skills.
- Repeat Sit Game. We will halt the walk, face your dog and ask them to sit and wait. We will take a few steps away, call your dog to us and ask them to sit and wait again. We repeat this a three to five times. We reward good response and focusing skills. We also mix up the sit with a down for a bigger challenge.
- Recall practice. Using the dog’s standard leash, we will periodically call your dog back to us and reward for good response and recall. For an added challenge, we will try recalling your dog when we know he is distracted by something.
- Trick training. We will stop to take a moment to work on your dog’s basic obedience skills and we will also try to teach them something new.
- Interacting with the environment. We will be creative with the environment and find safe ways to challenge your dog, such as getting them to jump up on a log, or city bench, go under signs, etc. This is called Dog Parkour and it is a fun and creative way to help make walks more interesting for both the Handled and the dog!
It does not matter if we are taking your dog down sidewalks or on a trail, there are plenty of opportunities out there for us to ask your dog to think. We will balance every walk with a bit of enrichment time and still give your dog his needed “sniff time” to explore the world outside of his home on a loose leash. Sniff time is important too, as one-third of your dog’s brain is dedicated to olfaction. Allowing your dog a moment to sniff is a great and easy way to reward polite leash manners. We want to ensure that your dog gets the most of out of every walk with us!