Creating fun hikes with my 2 year daughter, Iris and my dog, Seiki has taken practice and commitment. There has been many times when I have taken Iris out with Seiki and she was crying almost the entire time of 20-30 minutes. Seiki was sad to leave and wanted to exercise longer. Iris was done and ready to go home. After much practice and experimenting, I have developed some ideas to create the hikes to be more fun for Iris. As a result we are able to hike longer. There is so much more than just dog training and obedience to create a hike with your dog and toddler to be fun.
1.) Lower your expectations. It is important to realize that your toddler is young and won’t be able to hike as long as you can. He /she will likely want to explore / wonder and will walk slowly. Come prepared with the realization that your toddler is much younger than you.
2.) Make the hike fun for your toddler. What activities does your toddler enjoy? Iris likes sledding. So last time we went hiking we brought the sled. It also came in handy because she had a toy. We could slide down the mountain in it. She could sit in it, and I could pull her for a ride. She also could pull the sled herself.
3.) Reinforce your toddler when he / she is having fun. I love giving Iris organic fruit snacks when she walks for long periods and when she walks in my desired directions.
4.) Listen to your toddler. He / she won’t enjoy the hike if they are forced to do things that are not fun. When Iris tells me she is ready to go home, we start going home. When she is tired I let he lay in the sled and pull her back to the car to leave. When she needs to cry, I honor her emotions and let her cry.
5.) Dress warm and bring extra clothing. Be ready to warm your toddler if he / she gets cold so they know they can trust that he / she will warm outside.
6.) Hike in off-leash locations. Ensure that your dog is great with dog training. Northeast Ohio has many off leash hiking locations. It will be easier to let your dog run instead of juggling your toddler and a leash.
7.) Make sure you hike significantly before or after your toddler’s naptime.
As a professional dog trainer I know how important it is to perform dog training. Northeast Ohio has enticed me to hike frequently with my toddler and my dog. As result, I realize there is much more to a happy and fun hike than just obedience. For training support with a toddler, our Northeast Ohio dog training company recommends private dog training.
Your Turn! We want to hear from you!
Do you have a toddler? If yes, how can you create your hikes to be more enjoyable with your toddler and your dog? If no, what did you learn that you can share with your friends and relatives that do have toddlers and dogs?
Johanna Teresi, Professional Trainer and Owner of Four Legged Scholars LLC Dog Training, Northeast Ohio