Dog exercise is one of the most important parts of their well-being. How many of us really want to walk our dogs every day, but just can’t seem to find the time? We lead busy lives. There are kids to pick up and drop off, work to be done, dinner to be made, a house to cleaned, parents to visit, doctor’s appointments… I could go on.
Unfortunately, our busy lives tend to leave our pets for last. They get food and water, of course. They get all the loves and cuddles when we come home after a long day. But do they get enough exercise? Ask yourself these questions to find out…
Questions to Ask Yourself:
Does your dog spend most of his time in the house?
If your dog is a sofa spud, obviously he needs to get out for a walk! A sedentary life inside isn’t good for any of us, so let your pup out for some fresh air.
Does your dog hang out in the yard?
If your dog spends a lot of time outside, that’s great! But here’s the catch… The backyard doesn’t count as exercise. If I were to put you in the most relaxing, most beautiful room you could think of, that would be pretty great, right? Would it still be great after an hour? 2 hours? 8 hours? I think you get the point. After several hours, you’d be bored to death. Now imagine being put in that same fabulous room for hours and hours every single day. That would be downright mind-numbing. So consider that when your dog spends all his time in the backyard. He may love the sunshine and the grass, but he’s stuck in the same space day after day, hour after hour, bored to tears. The backyard is not a substitute for a walk with their loving humans. They need their dog exercise!
Do you walk your dog, or does your dog walk you?
We have all seen or have been that person in the park: the one being dragged down the trail by their dog. Or maybe your dog likes to bark at every dog that passes. Maybe yours is the one stopping to sniff every single flower and poo pile, making your walk an annoying stop-and-go ordeal. Regardless of what quirks your pup has, it’s important to make sure you walk your dog, not the other way around. It’s not only unpleasant, but they aren’t getting the mental stimulation they need from their walk if they are constantly distracted and not listening to you.
So you’ve made time in your busy schedule to give your pup a daily walk and they are happier than ever! Why is that?
Dogs love walks. Dog exercise is great. We all know that, but very few people understand why. A proper walk is the most satisfying activity a dog can do. This is because dogs are pack animals. Packs do everything together, as a unit. They hunt together, eat together, play together, and travel together. Dogs, just like wolves, have an inherent need to travel. It’s part of their DNA. When we take our dogs on a good walk where they aren’t distracted or acting up, they are mentally engaged in an activity that satisfies the strongest of instincts: walking with their pack. It makes them feel confident and fills them with a sense of purpose. It’s the same feeling we humans get from doing a good job on a project we really care about and enjoy. With this in mind, remember to make time for your best furry friend and take them to the park for a stroll. They will be happier, healthier, and better behaved than ever before!
If you and your dog are having a hard time enjoying walks, be sure to contact a qualified behavior professional. Learning to walk on a leash is a skill that makes your human-dog bond even stronger, and it certainly makes your trips to the park much more pleasant and hassle-free!
One of the first questions I ask new clients is: “How much do you exercise your dog?” Many people tell me what a large backyard they have. I tell them to stay in the house and yard and then I’ll come back and check on them in about a week. No work. No school. No Kroger, Publix, etc. Only the house and the yard. Would you have cabin fever? Feel cooped up and bored? Don’t you think you don’t have time to walk your dog in the morning? Another question I ask my clients: If you had kids, would you feed them?
Many neurotic canine behaviors come from being cooped up and bored. Destructive behaviors, OCD behaviors, repetitive behaviors; they are all related to being bored and looking for something to do; especially those in the hunting, working, and herding breeds. Dogs need to have a job just as much as they need food and air.
When working on psychological and behavioral problems with dogs, we need to exercise them first. As we have talked about in the past, once you know the proper technique to work on situations, you need to set up exercises and repeat them. Repetition is your friend in order to rewire the brain. Old habits must be alleviated and new habits established. Remember: what a dog rehearses is what they master. Repetition has created these prior habits. Many dogs have been practicing them for not only months, but more often for years.
If you have a fearful dog, exercise them first before working on anything that makes them fearful. If you have a hyper dog, exercise them so they can calm down. If you have an obsessive behavior-type dog, exercise them so that we can work on the obsessions. Once you drain the brain and the body of energy, the dog is much more likely to listen and to learn. They will much more easily take in the new information. Exercise makes learning and reconditioning easier all the way around. It is a primary requirement for a happy, healthy dog.
The most natural thing dogs do in the wild is walk. Birds fly. Fish swim. Dogs walk. Enjoy the bonding experience that is available to you every day.