At the outset, I will let you know that I have a personal interest in you walking your dog. It means that your dog is going to be much more healthy and satisfied and that I am most likely to gain more business from you, as you see the benefits for your dog. You may even experience less vet bills!
Unfortunately, not everyone understands the vital part that on-leash AND off leash walking play in the development and happiness of your dog. The benefits are far more than a dog that is closer to their ideal weight and likely to live up to two years more. To understand why dogs should be exercised first, then disciplined, then given affection, please read on ...
Firstly you should be aware that your domestic dog evolved from the grey wolf only about 15,000 years ago. Grey wolves hunt in packs, are very social and are active night predators who must hunt for survival. Your dog is a domesticated evolved version of the wolf, and MUST have its socialisation and exercise requirements met to live a complete life. Your benefit of course is that it will make sharing your life with them so much better.
By the nature of modern living people have their dogs share relatively small fenced in areas, often without contact of other dogs, or only with one or two others. We often humanise our dog and expect them to fulfil our emotional connection that should be performed by a child, partner or friend. These un-realistic expectations put enough stress on our four legged friend, let alone our busy schedule which means that they often don’t get the exercise that they desperately need.
Dogs live to work in a pack and earn their water and food as a reward. If they cannot vent their pent up energy or work for their survival, bad behaviours will develop. This will result in your dog becoming unbalanced, which often leads to aggressive or destructive behaviours as they try and become the pack leader by default.
What YOUR dog needs
Besides food and water, Cesar Milan (the American dog whisper) states that 99% of dog issues can be resolved by the following actions, in specific order:
1 Exercise (the walk) – Cesar’s text
2 Discipline (rules, boundaries, and limitations)
It is very clear that most dog behaviorists understand that long daily exercise is of primary importance to the mental and physical health of your dog!
TYPES OF DOG WALK
Owner, on leash dog walking.
One of the most important dog walks is a leash walk with their owner. This walk requires that you have ‘calm assertive energy’ and let your dog know that you are the pack leader. While you walk, your dog may be allowed to occasionally sniff objects you pass by, but ideally they should be taking notice of you walking them and be right by your side, never pulling in front of you. Cesar suggests that for a one hour walk that it is segmented into several parts which include 15 minutes of migration, 5 min of tracking, 15 minutes of migration, 10 min reward tracking, then a final 15 minutes migration to home. He has several variations of the standard walk with this formula used for dogs that relieve themselves at the start of the walk.
Now you may think that this is a little complex and unnecessary, however Cesar’s years of experience have shown that this should be the minimum walk that your dog receives every day, with many breeds such as working dogs requiring a minimum of two walks a day, and/ or breed specific games.
Dog Walker Off leash walking
Assuming that your dog is in reasonably good health (can walk), then all dogs will benefit from one to two walks a day. No exceptions. If you are able to walk your dog at night, they will still benefit from a morning walk with a dog walker such as myself. Because they need to burn their energy off so that they can relax at home (and not be bored), satisfied for the rest of the day.
Off leash walking is considerably different from owner on-lead walking. In off leash mode, the dog is likely to burn off more energy than an on-leash walk, as well as it will be able to perform tracking scent tasks and socialise with other dogs. Firstly, burning off energy will relax the dog for the majority of the day that most people have to work. It prevents undesirable behaviours that are caused by boredom of having excess energy: such as digging, excessive licking, biting, barking etc.
The tracking scent part of the dogs off leash task means that this is the time that a dog gets to be a dog using its most valuable sense, its nose. It will gain valuable information about different types of animals as well as all the other dogs that have used the park. This process will go a long way to satisfying the dogs mental stimulation as its olfactory sense section of its brain, which is 40 times larger than a humans. During this process your dog will be continually processing the different layers of smells it encounters, just like humans do when separating out objects visually. This is an extremely complex and satisfying task that a directed off leash walk allows your dog to have.
Socialisation is another main benefit of off leash walking. Dogs that are not socialised enough in the first five months of their life are the ones that usually have ongoing behavioural problems. As puppies, dogs learn how to approach other dogs, when to be dominant or submissive and generally how to play, nicely. As dogs grow older they still very much need to continue associating with other dogs, otherwise behaviour issues will occur, which limit you taking them out publicly, which reinforce their behavioural problems further.
Even if you are able to daily go to a secure off leash area after work but are too tired to provide a structured (moving forward) off leash walk, your dog will socialise, however they will not be gaining information about you being the pack leader at the same time. This is why a morning off leash structured walk by a professional dog walker is very beneficial for exercise, socialisation and some pack leader benefits.
Dog walker On leash walking
While off leash dog walker walking is preferred for all of the reasons given above, some dogs can not be allowed off leash. Typical reasons are that they do not have good name recall for their owners, they are very young or old and need a structured walk. Or they may have some behavioural problems that while not requiring a muzzle, mean that for their own and other dogs safety, it is better that they are walked on leash.
On leash walking by a dog walker will still provide considerable benefits to these types of dogs. The dog will still burn energy, will still have other dogs around them, they will still be able to sniff the ground. Slowly they will be rehabilitated. They will also have some positive correction so that they are not pulling on the leash all of the time. The only slight issue to this is that even if the dog walking rules are the same as the owner uses, the dog will not be bonding specifically with their owner. But of course all of the above benefits far out way this concern, particularly if a dog is not going to receive any other long walk for the day.
A dog that is not walked regularly
If you are unable to walk your dog regularly, they will inevitably form some form of behavioral issue. Not only are they not running through forests catching their own food in a pack, now you are sentencing them to life without parole in a back yard, not even an hour a day that at least most prisoners get.
You may not be able to walk your dog each day of the week, and you may not be able to afford paying a dog walker to walk your precious pet five times a week, but at least one or more professional dog walker walks a week will give your dog some of the precious dog time and play that they need to satisfy the animal and dog inside of them. This is why I believe a professional dog walker service to be vital to dogs, owners and the community at large.
If you can afford entertainment and holidays, I seriously urge you to consider that part of responsible dog ownership is taking your dog for long walks once or twice a day, and hiring a professional dog walker on the days you cant walk your dog.
A professional dog walker will provide you with the peace of mind that not only will they provide your dog with supervised exercise and play, but they will be insured in case anything goes wrong. This will also be backed up with pet first aid skills.
Please consider The Leash Team (780 554-9476) for all your professional dog walker needs.