Sunday, December 5, 2010
Dog walking is an activity that takes time and energy. After a hard day's work, it’s not always easy to pull yourself out of your chair to take the dogs for a walk, especially if they don't have good leash etiquette. However, walking your dogs on a daily basis creates a unity in your pack that helps them learn they belong together. Dog walking as a group teaches dogs they are a family and you are the one in control.
When you have more than one dog, their personalities can get in the way during playtime. One may be a ball hog and another may be shy and won't play because their personality holds them back. Another dog may be jealous and does everything in their power to interfere in your playtime with others in the pack. And trying to reward with treats can bring out food aggression issues in some dogs who don't want to share. You may be tempted to just give up because of the hassle involved with interacting with more than one dog. But since you are the leader, it's up to you to find that one activity that can bring everyone together as one, and dog walking is the best way to do that.
Going for a walk helps them bond with you and with each other. It's a special activity that provides them with much needed exercise and stimulation to help them stay fit both in body and mind. Going for a walk allows a dog to explore and learn. A boring day is broken up when their senses are given a chance to investigate smells and sights. How would you like to be coped up inside your house day after day? Even dogs that have a large pen where they can run and play need walks to help break up the same old routine.
Dog walking around the neighborhood gives dogs a chance to find interesting scents, like another dog who left a calling card on a fence post or next to a bush. Don't be in a hurry when dog walking. Give them a chance to experience the joy of being with you and each other as they “window shop” along the way. Let them sniff under a bush or around a tree because they are learning about the dog or animal who left the scent. Walks are educational for dogs. Let them fill their minds with all the wonderful scents they are processing.
My dogs love their pen. It's large enough for them to chase each other around and they're excited every time they go outside. We have possum, coons and neighborhood cats that leave their scent around the outside of their fence and sometimes, inside. Yet, when we pick up the leashes, their bright eyes and happy tails tell us we are about to make their day. They may have just had a tussle over who gets to sit beside me on the couch, but the minute a leash is dangling from my hand, the argument is forgotten as they wait their turn to have their leash snapped onto their collar. They know there's excitement waiting for them outside the front door.
When dog walking, it's good to have different routes. Since my dogs never know which direction I'm going to go, they have to watch me. It keeps the activity fresh and new when they have different routes and teaches them to follow you. I’ve never had a dog that didn't enjoy going for a walk. Even a couch potato enjoys a stimulating walk. Like humans, dogs need mental stimulation to keep their minds healthy.
It's important to be the leader of the pack. Dogs need to know who is in charge, and the owner who takes charge allows each dog to be a dog who doesn't have to worry about making decisions. Taking your dogs on a walk creates unity and equality in a dog's mind. No one dog is more important than the others because they all walk together behind or beside you as they find new sights, sounds and scents that keep their mind active and alert. The most important thing about dog walking is that a dog who is tired won't have any pent up energy left. After a healthy and stimulating walk, all they want to do when they get home is relax. Running with your dog is also a great way to give them exercise and Ruthie Bently’s article has some good tips on that activity.
Read more articles by Linda Cole