Adrienne is a certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, former veterinarian assistant and author of Brain Training for Dogs.
Why Is Walking My Dog Important?
First and foremost, it can never be emphasized enough that dogs need to be walked. Often, dog owners who own a big yard or even a few acres of land claim that their dogs do not need to be walked because they have plenty of space to run about and exercise. They adopt a dog and leave it in the yard to wander, possibly day and night, and have a clear conscience thinking that their dog is getting enough exercise and mental stimulation.
This is very wrong. Often dogs left on their own to wander outside are pretty bored, unsocial and sometimes they even become quite territorial and even fence aggressive. It is also easy to forget that dogs are socially-oriented beings that enjoy human companionship and seek it eagerly each day.
However, one of the biggest problems in not walking dogs daily is the fact that the owners of these dogs are missing one crucial part of dog ownership—walking their dog. Walking their dog keeps him well exercised and social and maintains a positive bond with their owner. So walking is the first and most important form of exercise for dogs. You can skip the game of fetch or the game of Frisbee, but don't refrain from walking your dog!
Dogs need on average a 60-minute walk a day, or if possible, two small walks of half-hour each. This provides the opportunity for the dog to get a good amount of healthy exercise and plenty of mental stimulation as he gets to smell, hear and see different things than from his yard. However, what should dog owners do if they are too busy (or even too lazy!) to commit to this exercise regimen each and every day?
First of all, all potential dog owners should realize what they are getting into before adopting a dog. Dogs need regular exercise, and owners must understand that. A dog cannot be parked in a yard all day long, be fed, and then sent out again. Dogs are not used to that. In the wild, the ancestors of dogs used to walk an average of 10 hours a day hunting and stalking prey. Today, walks are obviously much shorter than that. The following are some (temporary) alternatives for dog walks if you are just too busy that day.
Temporary Exercise Solutions for Lazy or Busy Dog Owners
Hire a Dog Walker
If you are at work all day, try to hire a dog walker. He or she will walk your dog, ensuring he gets the exercise he deserves. If you cannot locate any dog walkers in your area, consider asking some college students willing to make some cash or posting your need on a college bulletin board. Some student in need of extra cash may be happy to lend a hand. Just make sure they have what it takes to walk an under-exercised dog!
Just as people drop off their child to daycare each morning, some dog owners drop off their pups to doggy daycares. These places are packed with great activities that will make Rover very happy and even very tired, upon picking him up! More and more of these facilities are open nowadays, as people come to realize the consequences of leaving their poor pets at home all day long.
These are not an alternative to walking but may help hyperactive dogs that need lots of energy drained and provide a temporary fix if the weather outside is inclement or the owner is recovering from a disability.
A 45-minute walk may be cut to 30 minutes if you fill up a doggy backpack and allow your pooch to wear it. These backpacks are a good way to drain some energy while allowing the dog to feel helpful. You can fill up the backpack with bottles of water and other necessities. Make sure your dog is in good shape to do this by first consulting with your vet.
A way to exercise social dogs is to have them romp around at the dog park with some good dog buddies. Ideally, these dogs should be walked for a bit before heading to the park so they will not be too hyper once there. Always keep an eye on your dog and other dogs, however, as sometimes fights may erupt.
Avoid them all together though if you see there are bully dogs around or if yours is of a shy nature. Rather, if a dog park does not work out for you or your dog, a more optimal solution may be to schedule play dates with a dog owner friend that owns a social, well-behaved dog.
A game of Frisbee or fetch may help drain out some energy and provide a good time for both dogs and owners. Some dogs even know how to play hide-and-seek or soccer. There are many brain games for dogs nowadays that can help them stay mentally stimulated. Exercising the mind can be a tiring activity, however, should not be used as a replacement for walks.
You can set up a fun agility course for your dog in your yard if feasible. This can turn out being a great way to provide exercise while boosting your dog's confidence.
There are various ways to exercise your dog, however, just remember that the best form of exercise is walking your dog. Give walking your dog priority over all the other forms of exercise and you will have a very happy, stable dog that sees you as a source of love, exercise, and trust.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2009 Adrienne Farricelli
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