Most dog owners recognize the important benefits of regular physical exercise for their pets - whether that be hiring a dog walker, taking your pooch for a run, or throwing a ball around the local dog park. However, did you know that mental exercise is just as important for your furry family member? A great way to ensure your pup gets their mental exercise is to make a habit of regular “decompression walks” – walks where the main focus is not on the destination, but on allowing your dog to stop and enjoy the smells along the way. It’s fun for your pup and surprisingly relaxing for humans, too!
The Nose Knows
When it comes to sense of smell, dogs are paws-down the winners over their human friends. While a human nose is great for sniffing out Cinnzeo at the mall, our furry companions could tell us how fresh the cinnamon buns are and exactly who made them. A dog’s sense of smell works in 3D. While they are snuffling through the underbrush, their brains are forming complex mind maps to detect exactly where smelly objects might be hiding. In fact, a dog’s sense of smell is estimated to be up to 100,000 times stronger than our own! Naturally this means that sniffing is not only an important activity for your pooch to discover the world, but an incredibly tiring activity as well.
What is a Decompression Walk?
Simply put, a decompression walk is like going to a yoga retreat for your dog. Not only is he getting exercise, but also a chance to relax his mind and focus on the good stuff in life. He gets to run, sniff, explore, and investigate with more freedom than the traditional stroll. A decompression walk can be done in your usual neighbourhood, but a great place to decompress is a forest or trail walk, ideally in a quiet, stress-free location. Your dog will love the change in routine, and you might stumble across somewhere beautiful. At One Pack Pet Services we regularly find hidden gems all over Sherwood Park, so the chances are you won’t have to go far to find a secret paradise. Check out the Strathcona County website for more parks and trails information and inspiration.
How to do a Decompression Walk
During a decompression walk it is important to let your dog feel as free as possible while still being safe. This means that you might feel like Fido is walking you! Using a loose grip on a long leash, follow along with your dog at whatever pace they set. We love this leash from Sherwood Park Pet Valu.
The goal is to have your dog take lots of time to sniff and explore – even if that means you walk at a slower pace than normal. As we discussed above, sniffing provides incredible mental stimulation and a chance for your dog to exercise his brain. While you may not be running the Boston Marathon, your dog will be getting a mental workout, and as most dog owners know: a tired dog is a well-behaved dog!
Great For Humans, Too
Aside from the benefits for your dog, allowing your pooch to have “sniffy time” gives you a chance to take a break yourself. You can sip your Pumpkin Spice Latte and enjoy the sights and sounds of the changing seasons. Take a look at the world from your dogs point of view – what does your four-legged friend see when he’s adventuring? You might be surprised by what you find!
No one is perfect – of course there will be days when any walk is better than no walk! Sometimes, a quick jaunt around the block might be the best you can do. For the days when you find yourself feeling busy and wanting a little extra help, One Pack Pet Services is here for you. If you are in search of a Sherwood Park dog walker, sign up and a member of our One Pack Pet Services team will be happy to make your day a little easier!
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