The game Pokemon GO has been all the rage the past couple of weeks. I downloaded the app right away and have been able to play it a bit, but not much. I walk 5 times a day - twice a day each with Kit and Fen independently, and once a day with both of them together (my fiance helps during our daily 'pack walks'). With all that walking, you'd think I'd be swimming in Pokemon! Alas, that isn't the case. Quite awhile ago now I decided to make it a rule not to use my phone while I'm walking my dogs, unless I need it in an emergency. Catching Pokemon, no matter how rare they might be, is not an emergency.
Neither is texting, or catching up on the latest gossip. I normally have my cell phone on me while I walk my dogs, but I make a point not to use it. The only exception I allow myself, other than in the case of an emergency, is using the camera on my phone.
I've spoken with fellow gamers/dog owners who have said that Pokemon GO helps motivate them to walk more, so their dogs really benefit. I think that's awesome. Pokemon on! I don't have anything against people who use their phones while walking their dogs, but there are a few reasons why it doesn't work for me.
- We live in the city, where it's busy, busy, busy! No matter what time we walk, the city is full of distractions. There are people on foot, on bikes, and in cars whizzing by. There are strange dogs and stray cats, squirrels, pigeons, and about a million other things. With all kinds of traffic coming at us from all directions, it's important to remain vigilant.
- Speaking of vigilance...Kit especially is notorious for trying to eat things he finds on the ground. Both my dogs know the 'drop it' command, but Kit is a bit (okay, very) obsessed with food. Getting 'drop it' to be something he listens to a bit more consistently is something we're working on, but I suspect keeping a close eye on him to make sure he doesn't eat any 'street treats' is something I'll always have to do.
- I train my dogs while we walk. Walking is fun, but our multiple daily walks are an excellent opportunity to brush up on training too. Training means treats and, in Fen's case, toys. I'm apparently not an amazing multitasker. Holding the leash in one hand frees up my other to grab a treat/toy out of my treat bag as needed, but I think I'd need an extra hand to be on my phone at the same time.
- I just want to spend quality time with my dogs. I love my dogs. Admittedly I'm actually pretty obsessed with them (like anyone can't tell). Sadly, even all the love in the world won't keep them alive forever. In 10 years time I'm pretty sure I'll still be able to use a cell phone, but I may not be able to spend quality time with Kit. Our daily walks are something my dogs really enjoy. Rather than be distracted by my phone, I like to share in that enjoyment. I've found that when I put my phone away, walks become more relaxing for me. They are an opportunity to get away from the screens and to just enjoy spending time with my dogs.
I think those are my main reasons for forcing myself to put my phone away when I'm walking with my dogs. Again, I have nothing against anyone who feels differently. I'm personally not great at focusing on multiple things at once, the area where we walk a lot of the time requires me to remain vigilant in order to keep my dogs safe and work on their training, and I get a lot of enjoyment out of spending distraction free time with my pups. Other people might live in an area with less distractions, be better at multitasking, or enjoy that extra bit of entertainment to encourage them to walk more.
At the end of the day the most important thing is that dogs are getting walked! Walking your dogs, even if you have a yard for them to play in, can be beneficial in so many ways. Not the least of which being that, for many dogs, walking with the people they love is the highlight of their day.
Comment below! Do you like to use your phone while you walk your dog(s) or do you try to keep it in your pocket like I do?