A little guide to the Interactive Walk!
Recently I wrote about the interactive walk, which is a way of making walks with your dog more dynamic in nature. Are you interested in trying it out? By following the tips I mentioned, your mundane walks with your dog will become a more enjoyable experience for you both. What you do during an interactive walk will depend on the area you walk through, but in general, it’s pretty easy to find benches, bicycle parking, trees, and walls which you can make use of.
Using a bench for interactive walks is a classic exercise. Stand near the bench, but make sure that you have a happy demeanor. Invite your dog to jump on the bench. Argos loves jumping on benches, so now we practice it while running. You can see he truly enjoys and feels good doing it! As a precaution, don’t allow your dog to jump on a bench that has separated boards or dividers; just use benches that have an area for sitting, such as the one in the photo. Otherwise, this may lead to injuries on your dog’s paws. You can also encourage your dog to use the bench as a tunnel where he can pass underneath it. However, your dog may find the use of a bench difficult. If you sense this, don’t force him; instead, end the exercise with a positive note.
Using a bike parking will depend on the structure and size of the area. Generally speaking, it serves as a good obstacle for jumping. Leave the leash on your dog as long as you can, then use your hand to invite the dog to jump over the parking. Argos loves this exercise so much that he doesn’t even wait for me to signal that it’s time for him to jump! We also have a certain bike parking near our home which is built to be similar to a staircase on the street. It can be used for balance exercises, although this requires a lot of concentration because Argos needs to evaluate every move carefully.
Similar to the benches, little walls make excellent obstacles. Your dog can jump on the wall, and you can also ask him to sit while he’s on it, as long as you feel that he’s comfortable in doing so. If the wall is short enough, your dog can also use it as a jumping obstacle.
Slaloming through poles or trees is a great exercise to do in town. In order for your dog to understand this exercise, use your hand to make gestures and praise him every time he does it correctly. Do not think about Border Collies making agility: your dog will do this slowly and you should give him time to familiarize himself with the environment.
These are just some of the many exercises you can do to make your walks interactive and dynamic. The keyword is to improvise; by using a little imagination, you can make use of things around you and your walks will never be the same again!
While we’re on the topic of interactive walks, we should also discuss rewards. Food is the most commonly used reward, but you can also verbally praise your dog by saying “good boy” or “good girl”, followed by petting or rubbing ears/nose as a sign of approval. Even a cuddle can be a good reward for your dog, provided that your dog enjoys cuddles (yes, there are dogs that don’t enjoy cuddles!).
Argos prefers not to be touched; in fact, cuddling can be seen as a form of punishment for him instead of a reward. It’s also important to keep in mind to never scold your dog if he makes a mistake. Let it go, and praise him when he gets it right.
Also, try to evaluate if your dog is enjoying. Try to read him; to see if he enjoys. It’s better to stop if he isn’t, but go on if he’s enjoying.
If your dog is old, certain exercises can be difficult for him. In this case, avoid having him do physical exercises but stick to olfactory exercises where he can use his nose. Dog’s noses are very powerful even when they’re old.
Let me know how you’re going about with interactive walks. If you have questions, let me know in the comments!