There are four fundamental reasons why you should walk your dog.
If you don’t walk your dog, you are doing them an injustice. Stop making excuses and just do it. You will see a difference in your pet.
NEED TO ROAM
Dogs are inherently nomadic. Roaming is in their genes. It is as natural to them as eating. As a matter of fact, it is required to survive. By walking your dog everyday, you are allowing them to maintain that instinct under a controlled condition. Dogs love their daily walks. To them it’s like what reading the newspaper or watching the news means to us. By having walks around the neighborhood, they can keep tabs on who has been there. When they were there. And whom they were with.
It gives them a sense of territory. Should they get loose, most are familiar with their surroundings and are more likely to find their way home.
They also have a need for adventure. Something as simple as a new neighborhood to explore, gives them a sense of conquering new territories. It stimulates their mind and senses. It’s fresh and it’s exciting!
If your dog is trained to immediately respond to recall, take them on a hike somewhere safe and let them run off lead. Since they have earned the privilege to be off lead, give them the reward of being allowed to roam freely. Recall them periodically and then release them again. The reward of being released reinforces an appropriate response to recall.
Dogs learn by association. Walking your dog at your side not only creates a bond, it establishes and maintains your status as leader. Dogs follow the strongest member of the pack. A dog that races in front of you, is letting your know they have no respect for you. If you don’t want to spend the rest of their life looking up their ancestors, enroll in a positive reinforcement, punishment-free obedience class. Learn how to correctly walk your dog, to emphasize their place in their pack.
Obedience training is not just for the dog. In a “heel” class you will learn how to naturally project yourself in a positive way as the leader, while your pet learns their place is only at your side…not in front of you.
Talk to them during your walks. The sound of your voice, when it is calm, reassures your pet that you are pleased with their behavior. All too often, owners seldom talk to their dogs while on walks, other than to correct or punish them.
Let them know how pleased you are, when they are by your side. Praising them will reinforce the behavior you are aiming for. Talking to them also is a way to focus their attention on you and not distractions.
Living in packs, dogs are social by instinct. For the social structure of a pack to thrive, everyone in the pack knows his or her place. That is dog etiquette. By walking your dog, you are giving it the opportunity to learn how to properly meet and greet new dogs and people and how to socialize. You are also exposing it to new experiences and helping your pet learn how to cope.
If your dog behaves inappropriately during meet and greets, enroll in an obedience/socialization class, even if it is solely to teach them coping skills. This is especially important if your dog is aggressive, timid or fearful. Those are red flag signs of an unhappy and possibly dangerous dog.
Mingling with dogs that are socialized and content is a terrific way for you to see just how maladjusted your dog is. Positive reinforcement obedience/socialization classes will help you learn how to guide your dog in positive ways to overcome their fears and curb their aggression.
All dogs, even puppies and seniors need exercise. Granted some need more than other. You are the best judge of what your dog requires or can handle comfortably. Most are quite satisfied with a good 20 -30 minute walk at least twice a day…three times is even better. It’s not only good exercise; it helps to maintain housebreaking training and reduce the risk of “accidents” in the house.
The walking won’t hurt you either!
Bottom line: Try walking your dog for a week or two. See if you don’t notice a marked difference in their behavior and personality. A tired dog is a happy and a good dog!
Karen A. Soukiasian, GOOD DOG! – DOG TRAINING and BED-n-BISCUITS dog boarding and training – Owner/Trainer, St. Augustine, Florida – AKC CANINE GOOD CITIZEN and S.T.A.R. PUPPY Evaluator
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