Just in time to get you moving after weeks of rich holiday eats, January is National Walk Your Dog Month! It’s easy to grow comfortable and sedentary during the cold months—when dog walks can be especially nippy—but keeping your favorite fur-friends (and yourself!) exercised and healthy during the winter months is just as important as keeping them fit during milder weather. Plus, walking your dog is the ideal way to combat pet obesity, which is a danger during the more sedentary winter months.
Here are a few of our favorite dog-friendly trails in Greenville:
Need a little extra motivation this winter to get out there and get walking? Consider mixing it up a bit. Explore new places to walk. Invite another canine buddy along—and his human. It’ll keep your pooch interested and engaged, too. Or, hop in the car and drive to some of the great (and free!) dog-friendly spots Greenville offers:
The Greenville Health System Swamp Rabbit Trail: This scenic trail runs along the Reedy River on a historic rail bed. It is a 19.9 mile multi-use greenway system. Dogs must be on lead no longer than 6 ft., and visitors are asked to clean up dog waste. For an interactive map, including access points, visit: https://greenvillerec.com/ghs-swamp-rabbit-trail/
Falls Park on the Reedy is a beautiful 32-acre park adjacent to downtown and is the perfect spot for a walk with your favorite four-legged friend. Dogs must be on lead and visitors are asked to clean up dog waste. Swimming in the park is prohibited for dogs and their humans. A bonus: Falls Park on the Reedy has been named as one of the best parks in the US by TripAdvisor. Falls Park: 601 S. Main St, Greenville. Open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
Lake Conestee Nature Park is part of the much larger Conestee Park recreational complex and offers approximately six miles of natural surface trails, six miles of paved trails, and approximately 4,000 linear feet of boardwalks and bog-walks. Of all of the walking trails in Greenville, the Conestee system of trails feels the most ethereal and serene to us. Step onto the boardwalks over wetlands, and you’ll find it difficult to believe you’re still in the Upstate. Dogs should be on lead and visitors are asked to clean up dog waste. The park is open from sunrise to sunset. To learn more, visit: http://lakeconesteenaturepark.com/trails/
Furman University welcomes visitors and their dogs—on lead. Your dog will relish a walk around Furman’s picturesque lake, clock tower, gardens, and woods. Finish your walk by watching all the ducks and turtles that call the Furman Lake home, checking out the Japanese gardens and temple, or strolling through the sustainability garden. Furman University: 3300 Poinsett HWY, Greenville.
Top Dog Walking Tips
If your dog is new to walking, or he is not so well behaved on walks, try these suggestions:
- Dogs are pack animals, and as such, look for a pack leader. Be that strong leader (or your dog will try to be the leader for you!). Walk with confidence and self-assurance—head up, shoulders back. Do not allow your dog to pull or walk in front of you; she should walk beside you or slightly behind you.
- Find the right leash for you and your dog. Not every leash is a good fit for every dog. Explore options. Choose one that is comfortable for both of you. A good leash is short, but not tight, to maintain effective communication and control.
- Bring along necessities. If you are going for a longer walk, make sure to bring water—dogs get thirsty and can become dehydrated, even in the cold. Keep a water bottle and collapsible bowl in your bag. Always have bags handy to pick up doggie poop. Dog waste is not only a health hazard, but in some places, it is a code violation. And of course, don’t forget to pack a few of his favorite treats to reward him for good behavior.
- Be observant. Watch for signs of distress or fatigue. Panting, shivering, slowing down, or stopping altogether indicate that your dog is uncomfortable. Like humans, dogs have different exercise needs and limitations. The perfect walk varies depending on size, age, breed, and general health. If you are not sure what’s best for your dog, we can help you establish the right exercise regimen.
- When walking in extreme winter temperatures or snowy conditions, take precautions. Avoid letting your dog eat snow as it can have dangerous chemicals in it or hide sharp objects that end up in your dog’s digestive tract. Small dogs and dogs with thin coats benefit from a doggie sweater for extra warmth. And doggie booties keep paws warm and protect from frost bite and sharp objects hidden by snow.
- Enjoy your time with man’s best friend!
Regular walks with your furbaby not only improve fitness for both of you, but they reduce canine anxiety and strengthen the bond between you and your dog and help maintain a healthy pack-structure relationship. Always remember, a tired dog is a good dog!
For more information on setting an exercise regimen for your dog or improving your dog’s behavior while on walks, call Ambassador Animal Hospital at (864) 271-1112 to make an appointment and we will be happy to help.