What if I told you (now hang tight, this is going to be pretty controversial) that your dog doesn’t need a walk every day.
I’m completely serious.
There are things that are infinitely more valuable to your dog than a daily walk.
We have this cultural story about what good dog ownership looks like, and what the dog's days should look like. It includes walks in the neighbourhood, and maybe a weekly visit to the dog park or daycare.
Those of you with high energy dogs might be rolling your eyes now. A jaunt around the neighbourhood just won’t cut it for your dog!
But what if I told you that even your high energy, high drive dog doesn’t need a walk every day!
Dogs need rest, and they need adequate exercise so that they can build muscle and stay fit. A daily walk does not allow for rest days, and frequently does not include the right kind of exercise. For reactive or fearful dogs, they can make the problem worse.
Dogs need variety. Daily walks become rote and routine. They send us a message that we’ve done “enough”. They keep the dog just tired enough that we don’t need to do more.
Or, they just increase the dog’s exercise tolerance until we are relying on friends and family members, or dog walkers and daycares to keep our dogs from bouncing off the walls.
A good exercise routine for your dog involves designated rest days. It involves mental enrichment, including but not limited to food enrichment and complex problem solving. It involves safe, high intensity exercise, and relaxed, free exercise.
It involves taking them new places (as long as they feel safe) and finding them friends they can play safely.
So yes, your dog does not need a daily walk. They need less AND more.
I’m going to say it again - If someone is making you feel like shit, do not continue to employ that person.
I keep getting this from clients.
🚩“We came to you because the other trainer made me cry”
🚩“We spoke to a trainer and they made us feel so ashamed.”
🚩“I wasn’t expecting you to be so nice.”
❓How come we are SO good at positive reinforcement for the dogs, and so woefully terrible at it for the people? How does anyone think it’s okay to be cruel or judgemental to someone who is coming to you for help?
You can be the most amazing trainer in the world, but if you can’t be kind and compassionate towards the people as well as the dogs, you need a new job.
❕Dog training shouldn’t suck.
❕You shouldn’t dread training class.
❕Your dog trainer should lift you up, not put you down.
Here’s the thing; I don’t train dogs. That’s not actually my job. My job is to teach people to understand their dog, enrich their dog’s life, and train their dog new behaviours. My job is to listen to people’s concerns and empathize with their fears.
Some dog trainers are just jerks. They feel that their way is the only way, and everyone else is inadequate.
Others are wrapped up in their own trauma and stress that they can’t be effective teachers. They started working with dogs because working with people was too hard and then, surprise surprise, the dogs come attached to people.
And some are just so tuned into the dog that they get blinders on and forget to pay attention to what the people are learning.
I promise you, there are kind, compassionate dog trainers out there who actually have people skills. If someone makes you feel uncomfortable or judged, get out.
And dog trainers; up your game
Dog breeds mean something.
One of the most pervasive myths about dogs is that it's "all how you raise them", and that all dogs are essentially golden retrievers in different outfits.
📚But here's the truth; dog breeds have been bred for hundreds of years (even thousands in the cases of some of our mastiff and sighthound breeds) to perform different jobs. We have accentuated their skills, structure and looks so they can be successful hunters, companions, herders and guards.
There are exceptions to every breed. There are border collies who don't herd, pointers who don't point and german shepherds who'd rather spend the day on the couch than tending stock.
The likelihood of your dog being one of those exceptions decreases when you buy your puppy from a reputable preservation breeder.
⚠️ So don't buy a dachshund if you don't want them sniffing everything and sounding the alarm when the mailman comes.
⚠️ Don't buy a gundog and expect them to stay dry and clean (doodles are technically gundogs, by the way).
⚠️ Don't buy a livestock guardian dog when you live in a condo.
There are about 340 breeds recognized by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI). Chances are, if you're willing to take the time to provide a dog enrichment, companionship and dog friendly training, there is a breed out there for you.
🐕 Do your research and find it!
Photo by @abbotsforddogsit