If the Farnival had a motto it would be: “A Tired Dog is a Good Dog.” Seriously. We live by this saying because when our dogs are tired, they don’t have the energy to be bad. There are a lot of different ways to exercise your mutt, including but not limited to swimming, visiting dog parks, throwing frisbees, and tossing tennis balls. These are all great choices, and I’m not discounting any of them.
But, above all of these options, I recommend walking them. In fact, walking your dog is the most important thing you can do for them. This one simple (and free) activity not only wears their cute little asses out, but it makes them happy, improves their confidence, and relieves boredom. It’s a multi-tasker’s dream. Let’s start with their happiness.
Walking your dog makes them happy because it satisfies their primitive instincts. Just like dogs are born with an instinct to dig, they are also born with one to walk. This gene has been wired into their DNA for centuries because in the wild packs have always migrated for their most basic needs, like food, water, and shelter. It’s part of who they are. Think about it this way: when you walk them, you are honoring their heritage. More than ever, we’re learning how important it is to honor different histories. So why not honor your dog’s and walk them?
We have four rescue dogs. We found three on some roadside or other, and one was abandoned in a trailer park. They all have issues, issues that we’ll probably be working on for the rest of their lives. To be specific, Floyd is obsessed with food. Meadow gets anxious when she’s confined or away from her pack. Sara still has nightmares, eleven years after we found her on the roadside, which clues us in to how terrifying her experience must have been. And Ade, our youngest, is shy around strangers. We can control all of these issues with one activity, and that’s walking. A walk, done properly, exposes them to all sorts of new situations and experiences, which builds confidence and eases anxiety.
Speaking about anxiety, let’s talk about that backyard. “I don’t walk my dogs because they have a backyard.” This excuse is now a cliche because it’s so overused. Letting them roam alone around a backyard isn’t exercise and it doesn’t help them with any behavioral issues either.
Although it’s idyllic to think about your pup and that sprawling grassy space, some of the best-behaved dogs I’ve ever met are city dogs. City dogs take several walks every single day, even for the little things like going to the bathroom. They rarely get bored because they see and smell all kinds of different stimuli on a daily basis.
Think about how you felt (feel) under quarantine. Confined to your apartment, house, condo, etc. Think about that boredom. Dogs are smart. Never underestimate their sentience. They experience boredom too. And when they do, they often act out. They destroy things or bark too much. Walking alleviates boredom and all the anxiety it causes.
When I was fostering full-time, I introduced every new dog to our pack during a walk. Before anyone had a single moment to sniff one behind, we started walking. If you’re having issues introducing a new pup to your pack, try walking them together. Dogs are social creatures and migrating together (and properly) bonds them. It bonds them in the way we develop relationships when we share any experience.
Have I given you enough reasons to get outside and walk your dog? For us, one saying sums it all up: “A Tired Dog is a Good Dog.” It’s really that simple.