National Walk Your Dog Week

5October 2015

This week marks National Walk Your Dog Week.  To help promote this excellent and necessary activity, I would like to address this blog to why the walk is so important for your dog.

A proper dog walk is the most important activity you can provide for your dog.  As pet owners, we control our dog’s access to the outside world where many exciting sights, sounds, and smells are.  Your dog wants and needs to be able to explore his/her environment.  

I often come across many pet owners that give various “reasons” for why they feel they do not need to walk their dog(s).  Some of these include:  I have a large yard, walking the dog is too difficult, or they just don’t have the time.  

I am here to tell you that each and every excuse you could possibly come up with for not walking your dog I have heard before, and it’s all bullshit.  Simple as that.  
Every problem for not being able to walk a dog has a solution.  Similarly, having a large yard for your dog to run and play in is NOT an excuse to not do regular daily walks.  Let’s look at some of these “reasons” a little more closely.

My dog has a large yard to run:

Yes a large yard for your dog is nice and I’m sure the dog enjoys doing some activities there, but it is not enough.  Consider the worst cold or flu you have ever had when you were trapped in your house for a week or two.  What was the first thing you wanted to do when you got better?  Get out of the house right?  How do you think your dog feels after weeks, months, or even years of being confined to one area, regardless of its size?  The nature of being a dog is to explore one’s environment.  Depriving your pet of this natural instinct will without a doubt cause some sort of behavior problems such as boredom barking, digging, or other destruction.  

The walk is so unpleasant:

I fully understand that walking a dog who does not walk well on a leash can be very frustrating.  However you have no one to blame for this problem but yourself, and no one is going to fix the problem without your involvement and commitment to doing so.  There are many different kinds of helpful tools to use if your dog has horrible leash manners.  Things like an Easy-walk harness or head collar can be useful for many dog owner in teaching them how to properly walk on a leash.  The best thing an owner can do is practice Loose Leash Walking with your dog.  If you are consistent with teaching Loose Leash Walking, you will have a dog that can walk nicely on a leash within a week or two.  It is also helpful to brush up on your Leadership Skills.

I don’t have time to walk my dog:
If you honestly do not have the time to regularly walk your dog, you should not have one. It’s sounds harsh, but it is true.  Any pet requires a certain amount of time and dedication to care for.  You knew this before you adopted your pet.  If you do not currently have the time (perhaps work has been extra busy or stressful), then be a responsible pet parent and hire someone to help you.  There are many qualified dog walkers and dog trainers who also do walking out there to choose from.  Be sure that anyone you choose will follow the Loose Leash Walking training when talking your dog out.  Remember, consistency is important if you truly want a dog that nicely walks on a leash.

My dog is aggressive when we see other dogs and/or people:

If this is truly a concern for you please seek professional help right away.  A professional positive reinforcement dog training can show you many different ways to deal with aggression.  A dog who has begun to exhibit aggressive tendencies will need extra training and probably currently lacks proper physical and mental exercise.  Although curbing aggressive behaviors can take time, it is possible with the proper training and commitment from the owner.  Your dog is obviously not in a good or happy place if he is lunging, barking, and/or growling at other dogs or people.  If you want to have a truly happy dog, seek professional help as soon as possible.

Above all, I hope that you have learned that it is VERY important to walk your dog EVERY DAY!  Our pets give us what we crave everyday by loving us.  Lets return the favor by giving our pets what they truly need to be happy and healthy and stay with us for as long as possible!