I want to clarify something from a previous post. If you would like to read that post first, you can find the link here: I don’t walk my dogs.
The most frequent time that I tell my clients to stop walking their dogs is when they are reacting to stuff outside. This means jumping and barking at things that seem benign to us, like dogs, people, or inflatable halloween decorations.
I promise that if your dog was enjoying his walk, he would not be throwing a fit every time they saw stuff when on a walk. For these clients, while we are working through our behavior modification program, their instructions are not to walk your dog in areas where they can react to things. Find a giant field where you can see things coming and get your dog out of the situation before they explode. Around the Hampton Roads area, that might mean taking a trip to Smithfield or another space, where you might have to drive to get there. If you are not willing to take the drive, then don’t walk your dog.
Another situation that I have recommended this is for dogs who get themselves so worked up while on walks, they start to jump at their owners and bite them. We need to teach your dog how to cope with the environment before we start walking into the unexpected.
For both of these types of dogs, practice makes perfect. Everytime you unexpectedly expose your dog to a trigger that causes the behavior we are trying to stop, it’s one more episode that we have to reteach. Dogs who are continuously walked in the space that holds the triggers, take so much longer to work through their behavior modification programs than dogs who can take the break from walking in the neighborhood
However, healthy dogs still need 30 minutes of cardiovascular activity each day. This can be done without walking! Let’s take a look at some of my favorite exercise that does not require a leash.
- Chasing food. Literally throw kibbles across the house.
- Chasing a ball. If your dog is into toys, fetch is a great game to get that heartrate up. I don’t love my dog sliding after the ball so I teach them to go out and then I throw the ball.
- Flirt pole. Wear your dog out in record time. There is no way your dog can do 30 mins of flirt pole at one time!
- Play tag. Poke their rump and run. After a few rounds your dog will be totally into it. You get your cardio exercise in too!
- Strength training. All the dogs have a workout plan. It takes me about 15 minutes to work 3 dogs, and Cargo is still learning that sometimes it’s not her turn.
In the last week, Opie and Cargo both went to the farm for a barn hunt lesson where, they were on leashes walking around the farm. Cargo went to agility class, the brewery, and to the park for a walk with a doggy friend on a leash. Pixie went nowhere on a leash because she hates it. I want you to consider, if your walks are stressing you out, you might be stressing out your dog too! Not walking down the street is okay and doesn’t make you a terrible dog owner!
Give some of these options a try the next time you want to go for a neighborhood walk. You might notice your dog is actually better behaved after a break. Change is good for everyone.