Why walk dogs at all? Especially those that are sick or powerful.It seems of late that my dog walking classes have become more of an educational thing than anything else. I still marvel at questions that seem to me to have obvious answers but instead have to go into bat for the dogs.
Most questions by people who don't want to walk their dogs are based in assertions that no dog really needs to be walked. Like the most social animal on earth, born to run long distances will be happy in a suburban back yard by itself of one or two other close friends. Sure in a magical land where everyone drinks from lemonade fountains and has a pet unicorn, this might be true. But for anyone who has spent ay times around dogs, it is ludicrous.
Should only fit dogs or sick dogs be walked?The answer always is ALL OF THEM.
If a dog has chronic arthritis or is near deaths door and can't walk more than a few metres, that is the only reason not to walk a dog every day. Many dogs with arthritis, and given pain medication benefit from the extra mobility created from walks.
Vet manuals will suggest puppies need to be about six months before they go on long walks, because their ligaments in their legs need to grow and strengthen, but it is vital that puppies and dogs are socialised regularly for mental health.
Most sick and old dogs perk up after a run because they have been with other dogs and been in nature - most dogs are in contact with their primal self every day (at least in their mind) regardless if you have walked them, the walk just gives them mental and physical, real outlets. Sick dogs also need to have toxins removed from their body. Blood flow, sweat and even a little run will work wonders in getting the dogs organs and blood to remove waste from their body.
What about the two aggressive looking dogs in the photoThis might be a common thought, that a bull terrier and basenji should not be walked, because of the chance of aggression or dog bite, but it is those that are not walked that are not social that are the big risk.
This bull terrier pup is six months old. It is learning how to play nicely, the owners take it to the park regularly and when it 'over plays' its back on the leash. A bull terrier really needs to learn how to regulate its jaw pressure when YOUNG, even when it thinks it is just puppy mouthing another dog.
That is because it has considerable strength and in the height of excited play can forget. it does not have a soft retriever mouth. the breed has been used by a few unscrupulous people for dog fighting, and it has gained a bad reputation and unfortunately is still owned by some people who mistreat these kinds of dogs and encourage them to be anti social and fight. Not this dog, but this dogs innate power will make it a threat to itself unless it learns the acceptable level of off lead play - that is why the owner keeps walking it so often. To make it a valuable member of the social dog park community.
The basenji dog in the photo used to be walked with another basenji who recently died of old age. Losing a close dog can dramatically psychologically affect many dogs. They go through grief life humans can act out. The basenji is an ancient dog with dna very close to the wolf and is notorious at being difficult to train - because of its old dna lineage. The only way for this dog to learn about what is acceptable is to continually safely be exposed to social dogs in a dog park, under its owner's expert supervision. Plus walking will keep this dog mobile and have regular sleep patterns at home.
These two dogs in the photo, a young bull terrier, and an old basenji could easily attack each other if they were not so regularly walked in the park. Making sure that the bull terrier respects the older dog is the key here, and that the older dog does not feel threatened. Both of these dogs are fine citizens in our local park - because of the regular walks by the dedicate owners. This in turn teaches all other dogs that not all dogs of these breeds are to be feared.