Walking The Dog: Is It Really Just Walking?
So your alarm clock wakes you up at six a.m. You decide to open your eyes and the first thing you see is your dog, staring at you while waving his tail with excitement. He’s waiting for you and you know he won’t wait much longer; you better take him out… You put on your robe and shoes, grab his leash and walk towards the front door. When you open the door, your heart misses a beat: it’s dark and freezing cold, the wind is so strong your and it’s raining in a way that would make Noah cry in despair. Well, a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do… Okay, After all, your dog needs to pee! Okay, this may be a little over the top but I’m sure you get my point.
For most people, walking the dog may feel like this! It can be seen as a terrible burden; something you need to do or your dog will pee all over your house. It shouldn’t be like this, though! Walking the dog shouldn’t be used with the single purpose of allowing him to just potty.
Taking a walk with your dog could be used as a powerful tool to train and enrich your dog’s life. Here’s a small list of reasons why:
- Physical exercise. This is the most obvious benefit. For most dogs, it’s very important that they’re allowed to run and walk for at least thirty minutes a day. It contributes to their physical and mental health. If your dog doesn’t get the chance to spend some of his energies, he may start to develop behavioral problems such as excessive barking, chewing and digging, amongst others.
- Mental stimulation. From the dog’s perspective, going for a walk is an amazing adventure to discover new scents and a variety of stimuli, meet new people and play with his doggy friends. Since most dogs spend their entire day home alone and feeling bored, this can be a great way to mentally stimulate them. Remember, a tired dog is a happy dog!
- You can use the surrounding environment as a reward and turn the walk into a training session. For example, if your dog is pulling on the leash to get to a tree, teach him to look at you instead or if he wants to sniff and greet another dog, teach him to sit and wait for your permission.
A five minute walk around the neighborhood can’t possibly be enough. In order to be a source of physical exercise, mental stimulation and training opportunities, the walk should take at least 30 minutes every day. Your dog depends on you to be able to see and explore new environments… otherwise, he is stuck on the same place day after day. And if you don’t have enough time to take him for longer walks, you can try to hire a dog walker or even take him to a doggy day care.
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