Decompression walks: This week take some time to examine how your dog really feels about his walk- is the way your dog walks really promoting his behavioral and physical wellbeing the way you think it should? If you struggle with leash pulling or reactivity on your walks, you might relate to the feeling that walks are a chore rather than a joy. But have you ever thought your dog might have the same idea? Often the way we walk dogs (on relatively short leashes attached to collars, in straight lines on concrete) doesn't do much to mimic the exercise and stimulation they would choose as free roaming animals. To make matters worse, we've been told all sorts of things about "providing leadership" to our dogs by choosing the direction and time of our walk and making sure they get a specified amount of exercise on walks. In reality, almost no dog can get appropriate amounts of physical exercise on leash walks, but they can get valuable enrichment and sensory stimulation by making the most of our walks to mimic what their brains and bodies are built to do. Enter the decompression walk! These walks aim to encourage sniffing, more natural movement, and focus on behavioral effects of walking. The general rule of thumb is that a decompression walk lasts twice as long as it takes the dog to settle- so if the dog is wild for the first 30 minutes of the walk, then you walk an additional 30 minutes after they settle. Check out these podcasts answering more questions about decompression walks here and here
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