As we’ve stressed many times in the past, exercise is a great way of keeping a dog happy and calm. One of the best ways to do this? Regular walks around your neighborhood, or to your local park.

In fact, a dog walk is not only a way of exercising your dog (and by extension, calming them), it’s also a chance for you to show that you’re the leader of the household, as we’ll explain below.

Tip #1: Assert yourself as the pack leader
By walking ahead of your dog during a walk, you send the message that you’re in charge. And being in charge is an important part of dog ownership. As pack animals, dogs have a natural respect for hierarchy, but this needs to be reinforced. Use your time outdoors to lead calmly yet assertively with your dog trailing you, or at your side.

Tip #2: Decide when your dog gets to have some fun
Dogs instinctively want to sniff their surroundings and get a feel for the fauna and flora around them. But a dog that’s dictating when she does this is exerting control over you. Use a leash attached to the top of the neck to enforce discipline, and when you’re ready, let her have her fun. But remember, this shouldn’t take up more than a few minutes of the walk.

Tip #3: Keep the leash short
The shorter the leash, the better. For one, it’s a more tactile experience. It’ll let you impart your authority more readily. Long leashes tend to invite a dog to wander freely, and it can be more difficult with a long leash to get your message across.

Tip #4: Consistency is key
Like people, dogs value routine. They need it to remain happy. Stick to a regular schedule: say, 45 minutes every day after work in the evening, or before work in the morning. A haphazard schedule only promotes anxiety, and leaves a dog wondering when she’s going to get a chance to get outdoors. Trust us on this one: the same time day in day out will do wonders for both you and your pet.

Tip #5: Make sure you’ve got water
With thick fur coats and a paucity of ways to get rid of heat, dogs get hot fast. Make sure you’ve got good old fashioned H20 on hand to keep your animal hydrated. It’s good for the mind and the body, so keep an eye out to see whether she’s panting more than normal. That’s a sure sign she needs a drop of water.

Tip #6: Make sure your dog is microchipped
It shouldn’t happen, but every now and then the unthinkable does take place. To prevent losing your animal, have her microchipped. This will ensure that a passerby can take her to the nearest vet and have her taken home. It goes without saying, but make sure the information on the microchip is up to date. That is, she’s not being sent to an outdated address.

Tip #7: Give her a reward after you’re done
After a walk, feed her some food as a way of saying well done. It’s not only necessary to replenish lost energy stores, it’s also a way of imparting the message that you have to work for your food. Such a lesson works as well in the animal kingdom as it does in the real world. By equating exercise and good behavior with food, you’ll ensure your dog views food as a necessary resource, not just an indulgence she’s entitled to at all hours of the day. Plenty of exercise will also ensure that you keep the crippling effects of dog obesity at bay.

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