Couple walking beagle

January is walk your dog month, and we have been exploring some of the different ways you can enjoy the natural world with your best friend.

Loose lead walking

We love loose lead walking, which is all about encouraging your dog to explore and engage with their environment while on lead. Once trained, your dog can walk any distance away from you within the length of the lead as long as they aren’t pulling. If they want to stop and sniff, go back on themselves, or change direction, then let them (keeping safety and common sense in mind, of course).

One of the many reasons we like this walking style is that it allows dogs some freedom and choice in where they walk, all while being safely on lead. It also encourages your dog to problem solve and make smart decisions, which is great brain work and builds confidence.

If you’d like to try loose lead walking with your dog, take a look at our step by step training guide.

Jack Russell on a loose lead

Long-line lead walking

Long-line leads are much longer than your average lead (some extend up to 30 meters), allowing your dog more freedom to explore while giving you control over how far they range.

Some long-lines have handles, others don’t, and they vary in weight and material so you will need to find the right long-line for you and your dog as individuals.

Before you set off on your walk, unravel the line so there aren’t any knots, then wrap it loosely around your hand. We recommend attaching long-line leads to your dog’s harness instead of their collar, so if they run to the end of the line, they are less likely to hurt themselves.

When you’re walking, use one hand to manage the slack of the line and the other (the hand you have looped the lead around) to hold the rest. Be mindful of your environment as long-lines can be a trip hazard and get tangled – they are best used in open spaces.

Battersea have created an excellent video to show you how to use a long-line lead – you can find it on their website.

Dog being walked on a long-line lead

Engagement walks

An engagement walk involves taking some time to play games or practice skills with your dog during their walk. Dogs have been bred to work alongside their owners for most of the day, but modern living rarely allows this. Walks might be one of the few times in the day that dogs get to enjoy being out with their humans, so let’s make them as much fun as possible.

Playing games with our dogs is a great way to bond with them, as well as tire them out physically and mentally. You could play ‘find it’ in some long grass, practise your recall with the ‘in-between us’ game (you will need at least two people for this), or perhaps try some DIY agility using tree stumps or fallen branches. Whatever game you choose will add an extra element of fun to your walk, and most dogs will love the attention.

Sausage dog on a log

Find more activities to try in our blog about having an engaging, wildlife friendly walk at the beach.