One person recently told me that she takes her dog out once a week, when they visit the in-laws on the weekends. The dog is paper-trained so she believes the dog doesn’t need to go outside. She was also told that if she takes her dog out more frequently, the dog won’t want to stay at home. This is from someone whose friend has a dog who tears the place apart when left alone.
Another person told me that they don’t walk their Maltese because the streets are so dirty.
Dogs don’t need to be walked per se. They need exercise for their physical and mental well-being. It’s just that most dog owners live in an urban environment and with a lifestyle that doesn’t include active outdoor time with their dogs. It’s not only a matter of space – leaving your dog in the yard by himself isn’t stimulating. That’s why so many dogs, bored out of their minds find their own entertainment, digging holes, eating the flowers, scaling fences to escape.
How much exercise your dog requires is all individual. There are some breeds that tend to have lower demands and remember size doesn’t determine that. As most of us know, Jack Russells are extremely high-energy dogs.
If your dog swims, runs with you or plays frisbee every day and gets to burn off his energy and have fun then walks are not necessary for exercise. He’ll still need walks though to eliminate and interact with his environment and other dogs. Walking or exploring the neighbourhood provides stimulation and exposure to new people, animals, and situations. Learning to deal with different circumstances helps build confidence and hence well-being.
Can you imagine spending your entire life inside, perhaps in a mansion or a high rise? Why would you make your home your dog’s prison? Walking is a great way to bond with your dog, and don’t forget all the health benefits for yourself.
And as far as the friend’s dog who tears up the house? Sounds like separation anxiety, a behavioural issue, not a normal reaction to getting walked and not wanting to be left alone. Eliminating a dog’s outdoor activity does not resolve his anxiety. Walks and exercise are not a treat, but a necessity. Withholding these activities is just plain cruel and not helping the development of your dog. For separation anxiety, seek help from a behavioural specialist. Some alternative therapies such as flower essences can also help.
For the person who didn’t want a “dirty” dog – if you really really must, use booties. You’ll have a much happier dog if you walk her, rather than carry her or leave her at home. I used to run with my Maltese in the forest trails and he LOVED it!