Should I Walk My Dog Every Day?
This Holidays4Dogs article discusses a story which made the national press recently. The story was about a dog trainer who suggested that dogs don’t need walking every single day.
While this caused some uproar on social media, there is actually a lot of sense in what dog trainer, Niki French had to say. While providing your dog with enough daily exercise should be a top priority, in some cases, it can be beneficial to skip walks.
Nicki French is very clear about this in the news reports and she is definitely not suggesting that walking your dog regularly, is not important.
However, there are many dogs such as reactive, young and elderly dogs that may not require rigorous daily exercise regimes. This particularly true if walks involve a great deal of sensory overload.
This may include, places where there are lots of unfamiliar people, or dogs, or noisy, hectic, environments. Nervous dogs often need more space in order to feel confident. They may also need more time to calm down from negative experiences.
At Holidays4Dogs we tailor your dog’s exercise according to your instructions. If your dog prefers quiet leisurely strolls or more energetic hikes or, even a day off now and again – do let us know. You will have the opportunity to discuss everything about your dog, when you meet your carer before you book a stay.
Niki also goes on to point out, that walks should be replaced with other activities and games instead, such as training games, mental games such as hiding things for the dog to find, flirt sticks, or garden agility.
As a trainer and owner of reactive dogs myself, I can wholeheartedly agree with the sentiments of Niki. Even dogs that are energetic in nature who would normally take a lot of exercise, can benefit from taking ‘days off’.
Rather than charging around for miles and miles dogs can engage in alternative stimulating activities. Many of which are equally as tiring, both mentally and physically.
Mental stimulation and enrichment is just as important as physical exercise. Spending time on this will create a much stronger bond with your dog, as well as being calming and stabilising.
Reactive, nervous and anxious dogs will always benefit from time out, particularly if the previous days have been stressful. When a dog becomes highly aroused and in a stressed state, this stress does not dissipate straight away.
If your dog is nervous and he has had negative experiences for a day or two on the trot, he will be in a state of anxiety. This can last as much as 24 – 48 hours or more. He may have experienced loose dogs running up, people bending down to pet him, or heavy traffic passing.
Think of times when you have felt uncomfortable, or stressed. You may have realised you need time to process information and feelings, before you feel calm, or confident again.
Depending on what the stressor was, this can last anything from a few minutes to days. In other instances, it can last weeks or even years, in some human cases of trauma. Dogs are sensitive creatures too, especially when they are living in a human world. They are not so different to us when it comes to needing some quiet time.
Just too tired (and old!).
However, elderly dogs are often happy to engage in other activities which will keep them feeling bright, and engaged with their environment. ‘Licky-mats’, ‘Kongs’, or simply learning a new trick may all be better activities than being hauled out for a daily walk.
You are less likely to drag granny on a three-mile hike, but may be more inclined to do a puzzle instead!
If you are finding walks with your nervous, or reactive dog are becoming increasingly stressful, it’s time to do something new. Occasionally, skipping the daily walk and engaging in another activity at home, will help both dog and owner to de-stress.
Nobody is saying daily walks aren’t important, because clearly they are for the majority of pet dogs. However, there are situations where taking a rain check is perfectly fine, and in some cases, even preferable.