The Dog Walk Challenge

New Year’s Resolutions

Once again, we find ourselves at that time of year. We pay homage and bid a sweet adieu to the past year, and simultaneously, ring in the new year with hopeful anticipation that our lives will get better. What happened in the past is now fact and cannot be changed, be it good or bad. What we can change is our future course. We have the power to determine and change our futures. We make New Year’s promises to change our lives, but almost always find these new-found resolutions fail miserably. Why? Because we plan for the future but forget to live in the NOW.

Change the Future NOW

By living and embracing the NOW, we are able to achieve our future goals. There are tons and tons of books and websites that support this claim. Living in the NOW requires loving and embracing the BABY STEPS of the process to achieving your goals. No matter what your new year’s resolutions may be, achieving a future goal requires baby steps. Completing a marathon race requires millions of baby steps starting from the very first practice run.

Recognizing and embracing each and every baby step of your journey is necessary to achieving success. We all don’t want to run the New York Marathon, but we all have our own personal “marathons”, such as losing weight, getting healthier, finishing a project, learning a new skill, living life to your fullest. Motivation and determination are key to achieving these goals.

Motivation & Determination

Motivation is the WANT to achieve a goal. You want to lose weight, run road races or play a new instrument. Motivation gets you started in the process. Determination is required to get you over the finish line to finally shed 25 pounds, run your first marathon or play your first guitar tune. While motivation is the WANT, determination is the DESIRE to succeed.

Problems arise when motivation or determination start to falter and we lose our commitment to our new resolutions. We all experience this lull and need something to keep us motivated and determined. We all would benefit from a constant influx of motivation and that is where our wonderful, magnificent canine companions keep us on track to achieve our goals. On those days that you just do not want to go out in the cold and rain, just look at your dog’s big puppy eyes and you will be out for your walk in no time.

KISS Your DOG

If you want to get healthier, lose weight and improve so many aspects of your life, take your dog for a walk – literally. Many New Year’s Resolutions aim to improve aspects of health, fitness and well-being. We start out strong at the beginning of the year, only to not recall our resolutions by years end. The KISS Principle (Keep It Simple Stupid) states that things work best if they are kept simple. Avoid complexity. There is nothing simpler than taking your dog for a walk, unless you do not have a dog or your dog is not trained on leash. Please contact us if you need help learning to walk hand and paw together. Dog walks are easy, inexpensive and versatile activities you can do for your health, with the added bonus of improving the health and happiness of your dog. The benefits are limitless!

BABY STEPS to Success

The following steps outline the basic process of using dog walks for physical activity and workouts. Of course, there are variations in the process. However, the ultimate goal is to adopt dog walks as a form of physical exercise or workout. These steps are not meant for “sniffing” or “potty” walks – the essentials in life. These are steps to take to add physical exercise and activity in your life with your puppy dog.

Step 1 – The Planning Phase

Plan exactly when you are walking your dog each day. Schedule your walks on your calendar for both work days and off days. If possible, schedule your walks as early in the day as possible. Plan how long and far you plan to walk your dog each day. As you get more comfortable with your walks, slowly increase your time and/or distance walked.

Step 2 – The Gear Phase

Make certain your walking gear is ready. Great shoes are a must. Plan for variations in weather – rain or shine. Make certain your dog’s walking gear is also ready. If you have questions about dog gear and dog training, please contact us.

Step 3 – Record Your Walks

Download a free fitness app that will track your walk time, distance and other variables. I use “Map My Run”, but there are others. Monitor your time and distance. Try to increase your walking pace (miles per hour). Recording your walks and seeing your progress is a source of motivation.

Step 4 – The Actual Dog Walk

“Potty” your dog before setting off on the actual walk. Your planned walks should be viewed as an “athletic walk” or “workout”. They are not “smelling walks, potty walks or playtime with other dogs. Walk at a clipped paced with your dog by your side. Enjoy each and every BABY STEP of your walk. Stop only for potty emergencies, water or obstacles. Do not stop and have dogs play in the middle of your walk. Schedule a “play date” and be on your way. If your intention is to lose weight and improve your health, your heart and cardiovascular system must stay activated. Everyone can relax and socialize during scheduled playdates.

Step 5 – Post-Dog Walk

Offer your dog some water and praise for a job well done! Replenish your body with water and electrolytes, if needed. Record your distance and time on the app. Check off “Dog Walk” on your To-Do-List. Give yourself a pat on the back for your efforts. Avoid trading a good workout with unhealthy habits (e.g., extra piece of cake); that will send you down the path of failure.

Step 6 – Repeat Daily for You & Your Dog’s Health & Happiness

If you can create a new normal, you will achieve your goals and possibly change your life. If you need any help with dog training or have any questions at all, please give us a call. My dogs are my motivation and inspiration to keep on keeping on. Your dogs can be your secret weapon to combat your fears and demons to allow you to become the person you want and desire to be. You can do it and your pup is your biggest support system ever!

Happy New Year from The Muttley Crew!

Kathryn R. Gubista, PhD is an evolutionary biologist, college biology instructor, former zookeeper, author, certified professional dog trainer with Lucky Dog Training Asheville and has over 30 years of dog training and human teaching experience. Dr. K is giving a science-based dog training presentation at Pack Library in downtown Asheville on 25 January 2018. The presentation starts at 6pm in the Lord Auditorium. Please bring your friends and family.

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