29 Mar 11

The 250-Challenge ...

by Nancy E. Hassel, LIPetPlace.com

Are you in?  After a long, rough winter, if you haven’t already it’s time to get out there with your dog for daily walks!  The 250 Challenge is a 10-week challenge to get us moving again by walking at least 25-miles a week! I know what you are thinking, that is a lot, it’s not really if you break it up into a few miles a day.  With 4th of July just 13-weeks away, don’t you want to have a leaner you?  What about your dog – many dogs are obese in this country due to lack of exercise and overfeeding by their owners.  You know that fun owner and dog look alike contest?  This challenge will be interactive too, just click here and your can add your comments, miles you have done and more.

Many times in our dog education class we hear that the owners only ever let their dogs in the yard, and/or only walk them, if they do for 15 minutes at most. Understanding time constraints, schedules, we all have – but you know a tired dog is a good dog, and daily walks with your dog will not only help ease your stress levels, but mentality stimulate your dog also.  Not to mention bond with your dog.  Many dogs are just plain BORED, and need exercise, attention, training, socialization and fun!  Here are some tips on getting started for you and your dog:

  • How to get started, first of all if you or your dogs have only ever walked down the street, take it slow! You want to build up to a longer distance walk – so don’t over do it for yourself or your dog.  If you dog is overweight, older or is just not used to walking you will want to just add a few minutes to his walk daily: 10-minutes day 1; 15-minutes day 2; 20-minutes day 3; etc.  You might be surprised that your dog will do ok or even better than you expected, and will definitely want to walk everyday.
  • Set up a schedule, if you can only walk before work, set the alarm clock a little earlier – once you go a few days, your dog will become accustomed to and look forward to that daily walk.
  • Get the proper walking sneakers and work out attire for yourself and sturdy leather or cotton 6-foot leash, proper collar with ID. If you are not sure about a training collar or equipment for your dog, contact a dog trainer for help.  Many dog trainers have all the latest products they can show you how to properly fit to your dog and use – and they can help you find the best for your dog.  They could also help you with training if your dog is just dragging you down the street and is the reason you don’t walk the dog!
  • Bring dog treats with you in your pocket or treat holder, a squeaker small enough to fit in your coat and a couple of bottles of water.
  • Change up the route!  As we get bored with the same walking route, so do our dogs.  You may notice your dog get a lot more excited just by going down a different street or down a different path.  This will help keep you motivated.  Check back here for a series on our favorite dog friendly parks throughout LI and secret hiking trails too!
  • Don’t over do it.  If you are not ready to walk 3 or 4 miles a day, your dog may not be either.
  • If you have never taken your dog anywhere, your dog may be super excited and may deter you from taking him again with you.  The more you take your dog, the better he will become.  Don’t give up after a couple of walks.
  • Know your dog, know your breed.  If you have a tiny 3lb tea cup small breed – they may not be able to walk a long distance.  Realize that!  But if you have a small dog, don’t think because they are little they can’t walk far-they do have legs you know!
  • Check your dog’s paws.  With debris on the road from sand from salt trucks and now landscapers, you will want to check your dog’s paws to make sure they did not get a splinter, step in glass, cut or even step on a thorn.  You can do so while on walk or after the walk when the dog is sleeping.   Sometimes dogs are stoic and don’t show pain or an injury, you don’t want to make paw pad or injury worse – so be sure to monitor your dog throughout your walks and afterwards.
  • If you are hiking with your dog, be sure to bring a first aid kit for pets, bottled water and an extra collar or leash – just in case your dogs leash breaks or dog gets an injury.  If you are really hiking somewhere off the beaten path, make sure you have mapped out the local 24-hour veterinary clinic, again just in case.
  • Can’t walk the dog yourself? Hire a dog walker – there are many on LI and can make your life easier.
  • Leave your dog at home – if your dog just can’t do or does not want to walk, (I know a French bulldog that would rather NOT walk at all, and just stay in the house!), grab your ipod and go by yourself or with a friend!  This 250-Challenge is also for non-dog owners. :)

If you are not sure about walking your dog far or don’t know how to properly walk your dog – contact a trainer for help.  Also bring your dog for a check up at to the veterinarian; just like you might want to ask your own doctor before starting any exercise routine, you may want to ask your vet too.  I personally walk my almost 10-year old dog nearly 15 to 20 miles a week and he would keep going further if I let him!  So I will be adding 5 miles to my routine, and most likely brining him too!

Also, if your dog is in great shape and you are adding a mile two extra a day, you might want to give a little bit more food than normal, for instance my dog gets about 2 cups of premium holistic dog food regularly, and on long distance walk days (usually 5 or 6 miles), I will give him and extra ¼ of a cup or so.  With this, you don’t want to over do it either! Ask your veterinarian if you are not sure.

Comments are closed.