The Importance of the Walk

Posted by on Jul 25, 2010 in Excercise, Health & Wellness, Paws for Thought | 0 comments

If you are like me, by the time you get home from a full day of work and everything else you do after 5pm, the last thing you want to do is walk your dog.  So, you resort to throwing the ball in your back yard a few times or wrestling the dog in your apartment to get out that pent up energy.

The dog may actually seem a bit tired after this minor activity….panting and frequenting his water bowl.  Most likely, within the next 30 minutes your dog has just as much energy as he did when you first walked through the door.  Trust me; he has MUCH more energy to get out of his system. 

Unused energy can manifest itself in several ways.  If, your dog is showing signs of anxiety, nervousness or aggression most of this can be remedied by walking.  I know it sounds crazy and if you are a Caesar Milan fan you know with EVERY client he meets, the dog is not getting the exercise he needs.

If you consider that dogs are truly pack animals the idea of the walk makes sense.  When their ancestors lived in the wild they were always on the go.  Hunting and foraging for food and water was their daily routine.  It meant survival.  Walking as a pack gave them not only the exercise they needed but also a sense of purpose and an understanding of their role within the pack.  Even though dogs have evolved over the years, they are still pack animals and need to maintain their rightful place within YOUR pack.  Walking will create this bond with your dog and give him a sense of purpose.

Now, many of you are probably saying my dog pulls or my dog hates walking!  The pulling part is easy to fix as is the hating the walk part.  Here are a few recommendations:

  1. Use the correct leash and collar.  I am not a big fan of the retractable leash.  Especially when you are training your dog to walk nicely.  Retractable leashes give the dog far too much reign over the walk and it can cause accidents to occur.   I broke my hand a few years ago using one of these!

Small dogs seem to do well on a harness.  If they where a collar and you are constantly pulling on it, you could potentially injure their trachea.  Harnesses will apply pressure to the chest and not the neck.

Larger breeds can do well with a Halti, Gentle Leader or a prong collar.  I know many people believe that a prong collar is cruel but I think it is just misunderstood.  But, this is for another article!

Using a sturdy leather leash is better than nylon, cotton or other material.  Leather leashes give the dog less room to pull and are very strong.  These are highly recommended for medium to large breed dogs.

2.  Consult a trainer.  If you are really having trouble walking your dog, consult a trainer.  Many of them will provide a phone consultation for free.  There are group classes and private lessons that you can choose from as well.  Interview a few potential trainers and go from there.  It may only take a lesson or two to get you and your dog on the right track.

3.  If your dog hates walking, begin going on short romps around the neighborhood and lure him with treats.  After you return home, give him a lot of praise and a very special treat of some sort.  In this way, he will begin to realize that walking means great rewards!

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