Here at Coast and Country Canines, we talk a lot about training, brain games and engaging with our dogs on their walks, but what exactly is all that for? Surely a walk is just that – a good leg stetch for everyone.

Well, you probably already know that most dog breeds have a purpose. Throughout history, dogs have had all sorts of jobs, from traditional guarding and hunting to the modern medical detection dogs. Not only are they loyal and loveable, dogs are also very good at learning our signals and behaving accordingly – which is why we can train them to do so many remarkable things.

Nowadays most of our dogs are family pets, which might seem like a step up but also brings its own sets of rules and challenges. A lot of dogs must get used to being on their own for part of the day, rather than being outside with their owners while they work. We train the basics and walks are seen as physical exercise, but we often forget the mental muscles that dogs should be working daily as well. It has been well established in the field of animal welfare, that animals need both mental and physical enrichment and dogs are no exception to this.

Of course, navigating our human world can take a lot of doggy brain power, and walks have all sorts of smells and sights to keep our dogs entertained. However, if we don’t take an active role in this, we lose the interactive aspect that is so important to the dog-human bond. It is also very easy for dogs to pick up on the wrong signals and get into unhelpful habits, so it’s often worth including some fun top up training into your routine.

Finding ways to channel our dogs’ mental and physical energy might seem like a daunting task or a fun opportunity, it probably depends a lot on the dog! But there are numerous ways to go about this. One of the reasons we love positive reinforcement– training using rewards, is because it makes every training session into a fun game. A couple of 5-10 minute breaks to teach your dog something new or practice what they already know will really help make the most out of your time with your dog. This is also a great way of getting children involved with training. We also have a few ideas for brain games here.

The good news is, mental activity can be just as tiring as physical activity, so if you’re looking for a happily tired out dog, don’t skimp on the brain games. This can be extra beneficial for very young or old dogs, or dogs with medical issues or injuries, that need to be careful of over exercising. We often worry that if our dog doesn’t get a really good long run, that they aren’t getting a “proper walk”, but that really isn’t the case, we need to aim for a good balance.

In the modern world we often have a lot of different pressures, especially on our time. So making the most out of our daily walks is important for us and our dogs. Brain games and fun training are just another way to enhance our time with our dogs, benefiting all of us. So be safe, have fun and happy walking!