For others, though, there is the dog walk, highly suggested for the many joys it provides.
Meet neighbors. This is recommended especially after moving to a new home. New neighbors may not do more than nod as you walk by, unless you are tethered to a dog who is recognized as the most recent canine on the block. People are more than happy to ask to pet him. It’s a quick way to become part of the community and friendships can build so conversation occurs even after you’re no longer new to the area. In my previous neighborhood there was a friend who walked his dog around the block and talked with everyone. The dog, seeing yet another conversation in the offing, did the equivalent of a theatrical shrug and settled down for a nap.
Meet other dog owners. There’s a special bond between those who share love for dogs. Almost without exception they greet each other with a smile, a wave, and a friendly word. It helps to say something nice about their dog, never a bad move. “Wow, your dog is beautiful!” “What a cute puppy!” “There’s a friendly fellow.” Even if the dog is ugly and snarling there’s the old standby, “That’s an interesting dog.”
Give your dog social opportunities. Dogs love to interact with others of their species, at least most of the time. They butt noses. They investigate areas of their bodies in a manner that would draw the police if humans acted the same way. Most of the time there is no problem. On rare occasions one of the dogs may be too aggressive and it’s wise to let the original approach be slow and leash controlled. My dog has at least ten friends in the area. And one enemy, a nasty piece of work that scares even me and we avoid that contact.
Take advantage of an opportunity to train your dog. Walking a dog is so much pleasanter if you can pass by another canine without your dog going crazy. So this is an opportunity to train him to “act nice.” Easy to say. I know some people are gifted at the training project. I tend to believe it’s just the luck of the draw. My current dog is very good. He’s happy to greet when a greeting is offered, but he’ll trot right by with barely a sideways glance otherwise. Not like a greyhound I once had who ignored 90% of the dogs encountered but absolutely hated the remaining 10%. And I could never discover a pattern. So I had the opportunity to train and flunked.
Save house from disasters. Not much discussion necessary here. The dog takes in food and water necessitating an emptying location. Neighborhood lawns are a significantly better solution than living room rugs. Just remember to bring a poop bag.
Stimulate the dog. I heard somewhere that walks should be varied in order to stimulate your pet’s mind. I also like to think it imprints more of the surrounding neighborhood in your dog’s memory so if he ever gets loose there is a greater probability of finding his way home.
Get exercise. I have a friend who wants to get in 7,000 steps a day. She’s a walker so that’s generally not a problem. Except on days she doesn’t exercise. I suggested she get a dog which, if walked, guarantees a minimum level of several thousand steps. And remember walking is recognized as one of the best ways to maintain one’s own health, let along the dog’s.
Enjoy the neighborhood. You moved into it for a reason. Revel in it as you stroll with your pet. Note the house designs that make your neighborhood unique. Take pleasure in front yards that are filled with natural plants or vegetable gardens. At holiday times view and enjoy the decorations. And when you meet someone tell them you like what he/she has done with his/her home.
There indeed are many reasons to take your pet for a stroll a couple of times a day. But maybe the most important is providing him with the joys of sniffing those marvelous ever-changing odors that must be fully enjoyed every foot or so.
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I wish all of you the happiest of holiday seasons. I’m going to take my annual break over them. I hope you’ll rejoin me on January 5, 2022.