Don’t Feel Bad If You Don’t Walk Your Dog
This may surprise some pet owners, while others can completely understand, but I refuse to walk my dogs in my neighborhood anymore. As a professional dog trainer, I agree dogs need daily exercise. However, when daily walks become dangerous, it’s time to choose different forms of exercise.
Why I Don’t Do It Anymore
As temperatures cool down, our neighborhood sidewalks are filled with people enjoying the fresh air. Everyone hibernates through the brutal Texas summers, so naturally they will want to shed those extra pounds and exercise their dogs during the fall. The fact that more people are outside isn’t the reason why I don’t walk my dogs anymore. Instead, these are the two major reasons why I stopped bringing my dogs along for walks.
Cooler temperatures means more dogs are left outside in backyards unattended. As I walk by a house, these unattended dogs run along fence lines and start barking loudly. Some dogs even bang on windows barking fiercely indoors. These dog behaviors are super annoying and alarming for both my dogs and myself.
I’m forced to navigate sidewalks to avoid rude dog behavior. Plus, seeing rude dogs barking is extremely stressful for my dogs. Think about it this way: Dogs barking and lunging behind fences and windows is equivalent to them screaming, “I’m gonna beat you up fool,” to the passerby dog. Not only is this impolite behavior to other dogs, but it’s downright rude and preventable too. No dog should deal with this nasty dog behavior during a daily walk.
As humans, we understand these dogs are contained, but our dogs don’t understand that. Instead, they feel like they’re walking on eggshells, fearing for their safety. Also, constant exposure to a rude dog while on leash can lead to your dog becoming leash aggressive. Being continuously bombarded with threatening dogs that they can’t run away from may cause them to be threatening back. On the flip side, the dogs doing the barking and lunging from behind the fence learn that their aggressive behavior makes dogs leave, so they in turn become dog aggressive.
Today, I encountered two loose dogs within 20 feet of my home. Thankfully, I don’t bring my dogs walking with me any longer, but it still makes me extremely upset when inconsiderate dog owners leave their dogs loose outside. I have a few choice words with owners if they are around. Loose dogs are dangerous and can charge at your dog while walking, which teaches your dog dog aggression. By far, loose dogs make my hackles stand on end.
Neighbors, Contain Your Dogs!
Yes, I’ve screamed this very sentence at the top of my lungs numerous times. Pet owners must contain their dogs! Keep your dogs secured indoors or behind a fence, and never leave a dog unattended outdoors. Additionally, stop allowing dogs to bark and lunge at dogs (or anyone). Crate your window barking dog or keep him in an area with no access to windows. Trust me, while it seems like your dog is just “letting off steam,” your dog is becoming dog aggressive and you can be sued if your dog hurts someone or another dog.
How to Safely Exercise Your Dog
Of course, we all need exercise, including our dogs. Remember, mental stimulation is just as exhausting as physical exercise, so keep your dog’s brain busy. Here are a few options to keep your dog mentally and physically fit:
- Play fetch daily.
- Enroll in a weekly group class, such as nose work, agility or fly ball.
- Provide all meals in food puzzles and stuff in toys.
- Teach your dog to walk on a treadmill.
- Toss kibble or treats into your backyard.
- Play nose work games indoors.
- Go hiking on private property—with permission, of course.
- Bring your dog on car rides.
Rethink walking your dog around rude dogs. As pet owners, it’s our job to keep our dogs safe.