Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Walkies! - Why?

Have you ever stopped to think why we take our dogs out for walkies on the end of a leash? Well, the obvious answer to that would be to keep them safe from traffic, to keep them under control which is of course, a good thing. But do they really need to walk at our pace, next to our left leg, when we want to go, and where we want to take them? What do they get out of it?
Going for a walkies is usually the highlight of a dogs day. If they are cooped up in a house, it is their opportunity for relaxation, recreation and entertainment. Imagine if someone took you to a wonderful art gallery and then ensured that you were blindfolded as you walked round. Imagine if you went out for a sumptuous meal with a group of friends, but you were forced to watch them all eating, but were not allowed to eat anything yourself! I suppose that must be what it is like for a dog being walked on a lead at your pace, at your side and at a place and time of your choosing.
Think of it from their perspective for one moment. Sniffing a particular gate post might be like catching up with your favourite episode of a TV soap! A dog can tell from the scent markings left by other dogs who has just had puppies, who has just been castrated, if there is a new kid on the block, and who has just come into season! It is just like picking up all your e-mail... or should that be p-mail! And of course, male dogs will want to overmark and reply to the messages! Sniffing other dog's pee is just like catching up with the latest episode of Eastenders, Coronation Street, Emmerdale...take your pick. Your dog also needs doggy company, so they will want to sniff other dogs' bottoms and really embarrass you. Some of them will want to eat poo! some will eat a week-old kebab packet, a mouldy sausage roll or the contents of a dustbin bag left out for the bin men once a week! (bin day is the most exciting time to take my dog for a walk, it takes twice as long as usual!).
So next time you trudge along the road with your obedient fido glued to your leg, just ask yourself why you are doing this. Is it for his benefit or yours?


  1. I loved your example of being blindfolded in an art gallery. How many times have we seen people let their dog out of the car in the park we live next to, trudge around in a quick circle while talking on a cell phone and leave...not so fun for the poor dog that has no doubt been waiting all day for its walk.

  2. I can't wait until I can start letting Archie off his lead. I daren't yet for fear of him not coming back, but as soon as I build up my confidence I will let him run free, I'm sure he'll love it.

  3. Jo - you have to teach a dog to come back to you, they won't do it automatically! Start in your back garden, or indoors and use a word that is NOT his name..like 'come'. Reward him every time he comes back to you and make a big fuss. This way he will associate coming back to you as a good thing. The biggest mistake people make with recall is to call your dog back to you, put the leash on then go home. The dog associates coming back to you as the end of his fun time..he won't want to!

  4. Thanks, Matron, that's what we're working on at the moment. He does like his treats so does come back when we're in the garden, but whether he would when we're out and about I really don't know. He's very excitable when we're out on the lead, he only has to see a leaf blowing in the wind and he's trying to chase it, and when he sees a person his tail wags and he just wants to go and see them, so I don't think he's ready to be let off his lead yet, there's too many distractions for him.

  5. Good Advice! We have lots of off leash parks, here in Oregon. We always try to keep it fresh and fun for the dogs...even when on a leash.

    Wyatt and Stanzie's Mom

    P.S. Thanks for stopping by our blog!