For a long time I was a big advocate of daily walks with all dogs. I considered it a part of being a thoughtful, educated caregiver. There are multiple sources that advice daily walks, as a necessity for every dog. Myself I felt as I was not filling my duties as caregiver when I couldn’t take my dogs for a two hours walk at least. But is it always the best solution?
Gunia, my “aggressive princess” taught me the opposite. Right now she goes for a walk occasionally. Only when she chooses to. I had hard time accepting it, I had this vision in my head, that I should be taking her every day. That especially being a dog trainer, I should be giving an example of how people should care about dogs. And one of the deeply rooted belief in my head was daily walk.
But is it really necessary?
In certain conditions Gunia behaves aggressively. It was intense at the time. We were able to change a lot of her behavior but still daily walks were usually the main source of troubles.
At some point she refused to go for a walk. I always accept my dogs choices (unless they are dangerous), but I really tried to encourage her to go with us. I insisted and she agreed but during walk she simply stopped and didn’t want to continue . When situation started to repeat itself I decided there is no need to push. Why would I accept choice in training and try to push her decision in daily activity. She refused to go for over a week. When we finally made it, she was so much better in coping with various situation. Her threshold seemed to be higher. Stimulus that usually evoked aggressive behavior, now diminished. Still we have to work, as we always will, but I think she needed a little bit different approach that I assumed.
Currently she always chooses if she joins us for a walk (she just walks with us to the doors where we get ready for travel), or if she stays home (usually not getting up from the couch). We live in a house with yard, so she always can go for pee if she needs to. She likes to go out and lay down on a grass in summer. She enjoys watching, siting, sniffing and yes, occasionally exploring new environments. Just not every single day. It is different with two my other dogs. Gacek and Gapcio are at the doors every day at the time of our walk. I cannot imagine they would every say NO to a trip. But that’s the clue. Not every dog is the same. Not every dog has the same needs and it is good to ask them what they want, even if some ideas are deeply rooter in our heads. We are lucky to live in the village, close to forests, fields. Gunia is not familiar with the city. I gave up the idea she need to be „accustomed” to city life. She doesn’t, there is not need. She is perfectly well in her yard and occasional walk in the forest. She doesn’t need to meet the standards of the best urban dog. I think it is important to ask ourselves what our dog really needs? Do we really need to take him to group walks, daily travels, just because someone said it is the standard for every dog?