This is Charlie Brown occasionally spotted hanging out in the studio. To celebrate my friendship with Charlie and to help create a more mindful walk with her. I am sharing 5 top tips on how to create a more calming, mindful walk with your furry pal!
1) Enjoy a sniff walk
The nose is the queen bee when it comes to dogs. The part of the brain for sniffing is 40% larger than humans. Dogs have 300 million scene receptors up their nose we have 6 million.
Ditch the ball, the repetitive movement is jarring on your dogs body. Sniffing on the other hand has stress reducing benefits.
Whilst your dog is enjoying a good sniff no need for you to follow suit and get down and sniff everything with them.
You can enjoy your walk by practicing inhaling through the nose for 4 counts and exhaling out through the mouth for 5 counts.
When you talk to your dog do you notice how your dog cocks it’s head to understand the ‘meaning’ of the word you are saying? Rather than having a full on conversation try getting to the point with one word consistently. ‘Sit’ is easier to understand than ‘please sit down now’
Tone of voice is very important for a dog as discovered from MRI studies. This research has shown higher pitches or baby talk being the most engaging.
Be mindful on your dog walk of using consistent one word cues and a calm, cheerful tone to your voice.
3) It’s all in the journey
I’m guilty of charging along on a walk desperate to get on to the next thing on my to do list. How often have you charged along desperate to get to the park/ woods where you can let your dog off the lead?
Try to mix up your approach at the start of the walk put your dog on a lead and use this section of your walk to engage with your pooch. One of my dogs is a big puller on the lead (working cocker) when I tried the following it did help to calm me down rather than getting irate with the pulling.
Take some deep breaths and if you have a dog like mine that likes to pull on the lead try some strokes up and down a section of the lead to remove tension and help to instil a sense of calm.
Apparently these calm strokes give you both a boost of oxytocin, the bonding ‘love hormone
4)Leave your phone at home
I find my anxiety ramps up if I look at my phone during a dog walk.
Smart phones may allow us to stay in touch but they also prevent us from making meaningful connections with ourselves and our dogs.
I try to either leave my phone at home or put it on silent in my pocket. Taking the time to meaningfully look around as I walk. Listening to the birds, noticing the colour of the leaves. Saying hello to others I may come across on a walk and where appropriate enjoying a friendly chat.
5) Be present
To appreciate what is going on around you on your walk. Try engaging all 5 senses.
No zoning out
Just be!! By describing to yourself your surroundings right here, right now in detail.
Just notice and be with your best friend