Thursday, February 13, 2014

Running The Trails

"Off-leash walking, running, hiking or bicycling in a large, safe fenced property or park or in a forest are ideal activities. Your dog can set her own pace, sniff and investigate to her heart’s content, stop when she’s tired and burst into running whenever she likes."

The above quote from the ASPCA does a pretty good job of summarizing the benefits of Frisky Fido's philosophy on exercising your dog.  In addition to our fenced-in Play Groups (see the previous post, "Frisky Fido"), we go for a Trail Walk every afternoon.  Usually, I'm the only one who is walking on a Trail Walk - the dogs are running at about 90 miles an hour, or bouncing off into the woods after deer or rabbits. Mostly the dogs are running, running, running - and running at top speed is the best exercise a dog can get. Take at look at Socrates face in the photo above; what you are seeing is pure, unadulterated joy!

Here it is again!  If I could, I would make sure that every dog in America experienced the joy and exuberance of running free and loving every minute of it every day.  Of course, I can't make that happen.  The truth is that many, if not most, dogs never experience such exquisite happiness, and even those that do rarely have the opportunity.  It just isn't possible in today's world of working families and over-scheduled lives.  It's a lucky dog that even gets to enjoy a sedate walk around the block every day, and even that can be difficult to manage for some.  There are many dogs that aren't suited for running loose, of course, even in a safe area away from cars and streets.   A dog must have a really strong recall (meaning they come when their name is called no matter what) to enjoy the benefits of running for joy.  (That is another benefit of Frisky Fido's Play Groups, by the way; I always work in a little recall training in the hope that some day my client dogs will be able to enjoy a leash-free trail walk!)

Hiring a dog walker is one option for dog owners, and a good dog walker is worth their weight in gold!  Consumer must be careful that they find a good dog walker to reap any real benefits for their dogs, however.  I've seen far too many dog walkers that have large packs of dogs like the one above - and believe me, it's not a pretty picture in real life!  The big or energetic dogs are gasping as they try to pull ahead, the small dogs are being dragged along, and God help the dog that needs to stop and pee!  I want to cry when I see ten or twelve dogs of all ages and sizes tangled together, most of them wide-eyed with stress.  A GOOD dog walker doesn't walk more than four or five dogs at a time, if that.  She chooses dogs that have roughly equivalent needs for exercise, and dogs that move at roughly the same rate of speed.  What is really sad about choosing the wrong dog walker is that you usually pay the same price as you would for a really outstanding dog walker - sometimes more.  The good news is that I've seen plenty of great dog walkers, too!

In the next post I'll talk more about the benefits of exercise for dogs. Some of these benefits will probably surprise you, but I can personally attest to the truth of every word!  See you soon!

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