Walk Your Dog

So You’re Tired?

You don’t want to go out and walk the dog. It’s too cold, it’s too warm, you had a long day, you are tired, you’d rather relax, and so on and on.

You really do want the dog to get some exercise and work off that energy, but you don’t really want to exercise. You do, but you don’t. At least not right now. Maybe later.

(So you let the dog out in the backyard to get “some exercise”. But unless you have a dog that runs and jumps on his own for 20 minutes – and if you do, please find him a talent agent – she may be getting some sun and fresh air, but she’s not getting exercise.)

Well, now is the time to get up, get out, and walk that dog. Right now! In fact, if you are feeling it, just turn off your monitor right now and go for a 20-minute walk!

But if you are having a really hard time getting into the habit of exercising your dog regularly, start small. Really, really small.

Just Move

If you set goals that are very easy to reach, you are more inclined to reach them. If you read anything about setting goals, you will often find advice for making these goals small and when you hit your mark, build on that success.

So I tried this little experiment with a new dog owner who rescued a dog at a local shelter. I outlined this plan for her to follow for one week:

Day 1. Find a pair of comfortable walking shoes put them by the door.
Day 2. Find the leash and collar and put them by the door.
Day 3. Put on shoes and a warm coat. Stand on the porch.
Day 4. Put on shoes and coat, leash dog. Walk to the corner.
Day 5. Walk for 5 minutes. Give yourself 15 to get ready, walk and come back. Keep it short for now. It’s important to just get out.
Day 6. Walk for 5 minutes.
Day 7. Walk for 5 minutes, longer if you’re feeling it.

Hold Yourself Accountable

Didn’t make your goal today? Don’t beat yourself up, try again tomorrow.

It may sound silly, but if you are really having a hard time, small steps can give you the push you need to send you. And it was so simple she completed it Days 1 through 5, and Day 7. Day 6 she said she was just too tired.

This super simple plan will accomplish a couple of things. One, you make it easier to go out when you have what you need in one set place. She now keeps her walking shoes and leash by the door. Two, she got started. That is a success in itself. Once you start you see what works and adjust. My walker here would walk after work, a time she was always tired. I told her to keep with it for a while and she would probably find she was working off her after-work stress. Or, since she was an early riser (always an amazing personality trait to me), she might try getting up 15 minutes earlier to walk the dog.

Now this super simple plan is for those who are not walking the dog at all! The idea is to work up to longer times that are healthy for the dog, and if you get really good, maybe even running! But right now we’re keeping it simple.