As all owners know, walking your dog is a top priority to keep pups happy and healthy. Walks provide great low-impact exercise for dogs of all ages and their owners. It also allows dogs to explore the wide world that exists outside of their own backyards.
Dogs are stimulated by sights and sounds, and they want to understand their surroundings. Bringing your pup out into the world also helps desensitize them to noise and teaches them to keep calm in a crowd. What’s more, exploring as a group is something dogs innately crave. In the wild, canids venture out together in search of food, so being a part of a greater pack is part of their nature. One of the best ways to help your domesticated dog satisfy that instinctual need is to join a group dog walk.
Finding or Starting a Group Dog Walk
Group dog walks, or “pack walks,” are a great opportunity for both you and your pup to socialize. After all, if you’re going for a stroll, why not have some company? By finding a regular group to walk with, you’ll build a supportive community for both you and your dog.
So how do you find fellow dog owners in your neighborhood who will want to join you on your daily walks?
- Use Social Media: Facebook and Instagram are great jumping-off points. Start a Facebook group and invite people you know from the local dog park. Or neighbors that you see out and about with their dogs. Another option is to use that adorable Instagram account you have for your dog to promote a local group and connect with people that way.
- Join an Established Group: Platforms such as Meetup bring together people with mutual interests. Likely, someone in your area has already founded a dog-walking “pack” that you can join. And if no such group yet exists, take the lead and start a group dog walk yourself.
- Use Word of Mouth: Dog owners are naturally drawn to each other. It’s easy to make small talk while dogs play with each other on the street or at the dog park. Mention your idea to create a group dog walk for your fellow canine lovers. There will likely be others who have thought about doing the same thing and would be happy to help you get it started.
Joining An AKC Fit Dog Club
Another way to find your walking pack is via AKC Fit Dog Clubs, which are local groups that meet and accomplish certain fitness goals together with their dogs. Approved groups may include AKC clubs, independent dog training schools, and other dog-related clubs and organizations. AKC Fit Dog Clubs conduct at least four group fitness walks a year, as well as regularly scheduled canine fitness and conditioning classes. As you meet other participants in the club, you’ll also have the opportunity to form dog-walking packs outside the scheduled AKC walks.
Of course, there’s nothing quite like being rewarded for your success. You and your dog will receive an AKC Fit Dog car magnet if you achieve either of the following:
- For dogs and people in good shape: Walking at least 30 minutes 5 times per week for a total of at least 150 minutes per week for at least 3 months.
- For dogs or people who would benefit from shorter walks, such as senior dogs: Walking at least 15 minutes per session at least 10 times per week (two 15-minute walks per day) for at least 3 months.
Ensuring a Safe & Satisfying Group Dog Walk
You won’t be able to reap the benefits of walking your dog without also making sure it’s a safe and happy experience for all involved. Keep these guidelines in mind when on a pack walk:
- Always clean up after your dog.
- Keep walks shorter in extreme heat or cold.
- Bring fresh water for both of you to drink.
- Supervise your dog around young children and other dogs (even if the dogs are ones you walk with daily).
- Aim for five walks a week for about 30 minutes (or, as per the AKC Fit Dog guidelines, two 15-minute walks for senior dogs).
Make sure your fellow dog owners are aware of these tips as well. If you all make sure you’re approaching your group walk with the same mindset, your strolls will be something for people and pups alike to look forward to.