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Ditch the Daily 'Walk'?

The article says dogs needs '30 mins exercise every day' but fails to define that exercise.

This article popped up on the social media news feed last week, the weekend has provide opportunity to ponder over the message being delivered.

The reporting appears to lump all dogs and people into one huge category whilst I value the 'study of one' approach, taking each dog and each family as individual.

Taking the dog on a daily 'walk' is peculiarly cultural. I am lucky enough to talk dogs with people all over the world and haven't found other cultures to apply the same social pressure to dog walking as we do.

Accompanying dogs who enjoy an outing, off or on lead can be a joyful experience, but I have worked with enough sensitive dogs to know that they don't all enjoy our busy world and that walking a dog like this, without knowledge, control and support can be difficult and stressful.

I feel concerned because applying social pressure and judgement via the media, means dog owners have to apply energy defending their choices rather than focusing on learning new skills and practising to meet their own dogs needs.

The article says dogs needs '30 mins exercise every day' but fails to define that exercise.

A dog will never get an aerobic workout being walked on a short lead around the pavements, it is important that we acknowledge this. Carried out with care this type of pavement walk can be enriching, decompressing and an opportunity to toilet. Play is an excellent aerobic activity for all dogs and can be carried out quite safely inside or in a secure area, such as your garden.

Most dogs enjoy mental exercise, games such as dog sports, hunting, scenting, tracking can provide a mental and physical workout at the same time, again these don't always need to be off lead in a large open space.

What about the social side of canine life, unless your dog is very distressed around other dogs then a night out at training class, a meet up with a few doggy friends or play time with a family dog will provide more mental and physical stimulation than a 30 min on lead march.

Then there is the valuable connection time between you and your dog, after a day apart the opportunity to spend time together. Again, training and play or quiet, slow therapeutic walks together can balance out a stressful day for both of you.

Personally, I experience this type of article as sensationalist and judgemental. A risk to the relationships between dogs and people that are already under pressure. I had to think carefully before sharing it further but wanted to give an alternative view point on the idea of what constitutes exercise in our training world.

Shaking off social pressure to 'walk the dog' is never easy but if it is something you have been thinking about doing, we welcome you into our community of thoughtful dog people.

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