Basic Mindful Walking
For those who live close by to me (Mottram, Hattersley, Glossop, Broadbottom) you will know all about the traffic issues we have had lately. Since the 4th April there has been road closures, one-way systems, and lots of time spent in our cars getting nowhere fast. Saying it has been a nightmare, most will agree, is an understatement.
You see, despite being a dog walker, I still have to drive to pick dogs up and take them on their adventures and I always try to keep the driving to a minimum. Sadly, over the last few months not only has the working day been much longer than it ever was, but me and the dogs have spent a lot of time sat in traffic and it has not been pretty: just ask your dogs about my singing and watch their eyes roll and they put their paws over their ears
So why am I telling you about this? Well, apart from spending time with animals, a big perk of the job is being out in nature, come rain or shine. I know for my well-being, I need to be outside in nature, with the dogs by my side. Not trapped in a car together. And that’s exactly what both me and the dogs felt; trapped. They made their feelings very clear and couldn’t wait to get out when we finally stopped.
Back to feeling trapped. Do you remember that feeling we all had during lockdown 2020? Of course, you do, how could we forget that! Just that sense of not being able to go out, not able to see other friends and family, just seeing the same walls or outdoor space day in day out! It was horrid. I know we started to get cabin fever.
Now whilst remembering that feeling, think about all the dogs across the UK who do not go out of their house or garden. You’ll be surprised to know that there is a very large number of them, not just small ‘lap dogs’ but bigger more high energy dogs, that never or very very rarely leave the confines of their home. And just because you have a garden, it doesn’t mean it’s ok to just let them out for a wander and this is good enough. Dogs, just like us, need to get out out. They need to see the world, sniff trees and lamp posts, see other dogs especially if its their friends, exercise, bark and get excited, use built up energy. One thing I noticed whilst walking the key workers dog during lockdown was just how happy the dogs were to see the other dogs! Owners would say how pleased they were to see me, but I knew it wasn’t me really, it was their little mates.
Let me be perfectly clear, this is not about shaming anyone. I understand how busy everyone’s lives are, what many families have been through in the past few years especially. Nor is it a blog about insisting you walk miles every day, or you spend hours on walks with them when you have just spent a long time working and taking care of family. This is a blog about getting out and about for both you and your dog’s wellbeing. It’s about being mindful and taking yourself and your dog on a little walk, especially where there are trees (I know not everyone lives near the countryside, but I know there are trees and greenery around) if possible. Its about just getting out, experiencing the world together, stepping away from stresses and strains of life. It is not just about exercise for your body but your mind too.
And you get a nice added bonus on top - personally I think of it as a golden bonus. You get to bond better and more closely with your dog. I can guarantee that just a little 10 minute walk a day (I know its not long, but I am thinking of small steps for those who struggle) with your dog will not only benefit you and help you think better, and that it will give your dog a well needed time out of the house, but it will give you time together, human/dog time that is invaluable, which I know 100% you will be grateful for.
I know the bond I have with all the dogs we take care of is only there because I walk them, sometimes long walks, sometimes its me letting them free to roam in the field, and sometimes its me sat in the field in the sunshine and they all come and sit with me. Its joyful.
That’s another thing that could be seen as controversial; you don’t have to do an actual walk each time either. Going out with your dog and finding somewhere (like I referenced above) to just sit and watch the world go by is very beneficial for both of you. What could be better than that?! Its easy exercise!
Of course, I am not giving everyone a free pass to only walk your dog 10 minutes a day or take them to a park and sit there doing nothing; we must always understand the needs and ability of our dog, taking into consideration their breed, size, age, weight. What I am saying is just doing these things to begin with, can do both our dogs and us wonders for our wellbeing. You will see a difference very quickly. And I ‘secretly’ believe that once you start taking these little steps, you will want to go further and for longer. Just remember it is ok to go back to the small steps, a little walk round the block, a little sit down on some days, when you have had a hard day or when you are exhausted.
Id love for all you try this and let me know how you get on.
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