So we are all in lockdown and have more time for dog walking therapy with our buddies, to get fit, socialise and play… yes? There are many ways of doing this and using that walk time. Walking between 10-40 mins with your dog is a fun way to get some fresh air and socialise.

It gives you the opportunity to connect with your friends (at 1.5 meter distance of course) while your dogs talk to their mates, via sniffing bums, noses and other less interesting bits.

It’s a bit sad when dogs are dutifully dragged around on a leash with no time to sniff the roses (or bums or rubbish or possum trails). Like we enjoy going to a cafe, dogs sniff time is their social time.

Dog walking therapy cartoonTime to play is important

Research says we all live longer and learn better and remember more if there is an element of play in what we do.

You can make the outing more fun for your dog with a few treats, a few ball throws, frisbees (don’t over do it. Most people tend to overdo ball throwing, which a huge source of revenue for vets and physiotherapists patching up the injuries!).

Cruciate (knee) injuries may be the most common injuries we see with dogs. Owners usually report a similar history, “he was fine, chasing the ball flat out, jumped or twisted, then suddenly stopped, with a yelp, holding his leg up”. Dogs often require surgery or at the very least, lots of rest and no more ball chasing… boring!

Here are 4 ways you can minimise cruciate injuries, or other canine injuries:

  1. Warm up first with a 10 minute walk, a few changes of directions (circles, back and forth, a few small hills)
  2. Throw the ball a short distance before you throw it a long way,
  3. Minimise the flat out sprints…do a few, maybe 5 or 10 minutes, not an hour
  4. Don’t throw balls every day, do cross training i.e. vary the exercise: walks one day, balls every second or third day, wading or swimming every other day. A varied routine gives your dog a chance to recover from muscle strain and fatigue that comes with doing the same exercise every day, and of course you are minimising the risk of injury.

One final note, not all dogs need to chase balls or go crazy in the park to enjoy themselves. Age, size, shape and personality determines energy levels and preferred activities. I’m sure you’ve noticed some dogs are maniacs for balls, some couldn’t care less (their attitude could be, “you throw the ball, you go get it”), another might just want to sniff everything and other dogs think they are people and want to stick close to their humans.