Before I adopted my dog Bongo from my local shelter, I spent a good few months reading up and talking to as many dog owners as possible. And one recurring tip I heard was to always remember to bring your dog for its daily walk.
I do agree that dogs do require a certain level of physical exercise more often than cats. But have you heard of dog owners who have not walked their dogs in years?
There are two schools of thought when it comes to walking a dog. Some dog owners walk their dogs as a form of physical exercise. There are also some dog owners who have not walked their dogs in years due to certain health or behavior problems. You will need to know when not walking your dog is the right thing to do.
In this article, we will be covering why walking your dog is important and also when you should not be walking your dog.
What Happens When You Don’t Walk Your Dog For A Long Time?
There’s no denying that dogs are energetic pets and love to stay active for as long as their energy levels allow.
Taking your dog out of its daily exercise allows them to burn off all the stored energy which needs to be released. It is also a good way to provide physical and mental stimulation for dogs.
Are you a bad dog owner if you do not take your dog out for walks?
If you not doing so due to laziness or not having the time, then yes, that’s bad dog ownership. You need to make time for your dog’s health and well-being.
Here’s what can happen if your dog isn’t getting enough physical exercise.
It Is Unhealthy For Your Dog
Exercise is part and parcel of having good health. It doesn’t matter if you are a dog, cat or human. Some form of physical exercise is beneficial in the long run.
Dogs too require some motivation to exercise. It always seems easier to just lay on the couch and much on snacks or doggie treats.
The lack of exercise can result in canine obesity if your dog isn’t burning off the excess calories. It has been reported that more than 50% of dogs in the USA are overweight.
Canine obesity can lead to these health problems:
- Heart disease
- Joint pain
- More prone to cancer
Lack Of Social Awareness
We all have that one friend who tends to be more socially awkward than normal. Probably doesn’t get out much and spends most of his/her time at home.
Dogs that don’t go out much can suffer from social awkwardness too.
Your dog might be fine with the people and pets at home but what if it meets a new dog or human?
Will it still extend the same friendliness or start to get more aggressive or shy?
Taking your dog out for a walk or to the dog park allows it to learn how to behave around other dogs.
Not all dogs know how to react naturally to other dogs. Like humans, dogs too have a stand operating procedure when meeting someone new.
Getting your dog comfortable with meeting strangers is also part of its socialization process.
Dogs should be neutral or friendly towards new people without showing any signs of aggression or uneasiness.
There are some dog breeds that tend to require more physical stimulation than other breeds. Failure to do so can make them miserable.
Some of these dog breeds include:
- Border collies
- Golden retrievers
- Siberian husky
If you are planning on getting a dog, it is best to match the breed of the dog to your energy level.
It would do both parties any good if you are a couch potato and your dog is a pocket rocket.
Leads To Destructive Behavior
Ever heard of the saying ‘an idle mind is a devil’s workshop’?
Our minds tend to conjure up activities that are more destructive in nature when we get bored or restless.
The same thing can happen to our dogs if they do not get enough exercise.
Energetic dogs that do not get an outlet to expend their energy usually end up demonstrating destructive behavior at home.
This leads to them biting and destroying your furniture, knocking things over or even pooing and peeing on your bed.
It is your dog’s way of telling you that being cooped up at home all day is very frustrating and boring.
The best way to resolve this is to get your dog moving before it brings the whole house down.
Your Dog Isn’t Mentally Stimulated
Bringing your dog out for regular walks isn’t just for keeping its body in good shape. It also allows your dog’s mind to be mentally stimulated.
Dog walking also exposes your dog to other sights and sounds that it might not experience from just staying at home.
It gets your dog curious and excited about what is going on in the surrounding environment.
When Is It Not A Good Idea To Walk Your Dog?
Most dogs will benefit from going on regular walks but there might be cases where some dogs are better off not doing so.
Here are some possible scenarios.
You Can’t Control Your Dog
A well-behaved dog is a good dog. We want our dogs to have a certain level of basic obedience when we are out and about to prevent them from getting in accidents or trouble.
Your dog might get very excited when smelling and seeing new experiences. Such dogs can start to get out of control and pull hard on the leash.
If the dog is strong enough, it can break free of the leash and run to where ever its senses take it.
Dogs with a strong prey drive like hunting dogs are more prone to getting too excited when tracking a scent.
An excited dog that is running wildly without control is a disaster waiting to happen.
Your Dog Doesn’t Like Being Outside
As weird as it might sound, there are some dogs that just don’t like being outside their familiar surroundings.
These dogs usually suffer from an elevated level of stress and anxiety when outside. This could be due to the dog suffering from post traumatic stress disorder or it could just be highly strung.
You can notice this anxious and fearful behavior in dogs when they have their tails between their legs.
The dog could get spooked by loud sounds, car sounds, other dogs or something totally out of the norm.
These dogs don’t benefit from going on daily walks the same way a normal dog would.
In fact, going on walks can do them more harm than good as it raises their stress and anxiety levels.
Your Dog Has An Underlying Health Condition
If your dog has a medical condition that could get worse due to physical activity, then going for walks might not be the best idea.
These dogs can be suffering from joint and spinal problems that can make prolonged walking painful.
Dogs with health problems need to be seen by a vet. The vet will be in the best position to advise you on the level of physical activity that your dog requires.
How Long Can Dogs Go Without Being Walked?
There isn’t any hard and fast rule here but a lot depends on the breed of your dog and its age.
If you have a young border collie, you can expect it to be full of energy. Going for walks a few times a time isn’t uncommon for active dog breeds.
If your dog is old or has health problems, walking your dog a few times a week might be more than sufficient to keep it in decent health.
Don’t just walk your dog just for the sake of walking the dog. Do it because it is beneficial to your dog in some ways.
How Do I Keep My Dog Active?
In the event that you have a dog that isn’t suited for walks, here are some ways that you can use to keep your dog active.
Dogs like to feel that you are the leader of the pack. And how you show this is by taking charge and making your dog obedient.
Ensure that your dog goes through regular training sessions to keep it physically and mentally stimulated.
Keep teaching your dog new commands or tricks to keep things fresh and exciting.
Challenge your dog a little.
If you have a big enough garden or years at home, try playing with your dog indoors. This is good for dogs that have anxiety or control issues when outside.
You can play fetch with your dog or improve on your leash techniques. Either way, it allows your dog to still be physically active.
Enrich Your Dog
And I don’t mean read it a bedtime story or make it solve math problems. There are many puzzle toys for dogs that promote problem-solving.
Try making your dog toys if you want to save cost. There are many tutorials on youtube that have great examples.
This helps to keep them mentally stimulated which in turn lowers their stress levels and keeps them emotionally balanced.
Can You Report Somebody For Not Walking Their Dog?
Before you start calling your local authorities on somebody, it would be best to get the facts right.
Not walking the dog isn’t a form of animal abuse by itself. The owner might have legit reasons for not doing so as mentioned above.
If you are concerned about the dog, try talking with the owner to understand the reason for not walking the dog.
It might be something that you could help resolve by offering some sound advice.
Is It Cruel Not To Walk Your Dog?
It isn’t cruel to not walk your dog if you have good reasons to do so. If your dog is hyper-reactive to its surroundings or has health problems, taking your dog out for a walk isn’t always recommended.
That being said, it still isn’t an excuse to let your dog rot at home and get fat.
You can still keep it active with toys or training sessions.
Make sure to speak to your vet or pet behaviorist if you are dealing with something beyond your control.