Dog Trainer Reveals Why You Shouldn't Walk Your Dog Every Day
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For most dog owners, the daily walk is something of a ritual; a way for you and your furry friend to get a bit of fresh air and exercise. But according to a dog trainer, it could be totally unnecessary.
Shocking, isn't it? While most of us think we're doing the right thing for our pets by taking them on a stroll every day, Niki French says it could having a negative impact:
Speaking to the Mirror, the 53-year-old said: "It might come as a surprise, but traditional walks are a human invention and aren't helpful for many of our dogs.
"Replacing walk time with training games at home can give the dogs the skills they're missing to live calm and happy lives."
She added: "Contrary to popular belief, dogs with behaviour struggles can get more reactive or more excitable when we try to exhaust them through too much exercise."
Niki says her two-year-old rescue dog is 'noticeably calmer' after taking him on fewer walks and playing specially designed games with him, such as hide-and-seek.
It's something her clients have noticed too.
She said: "A growing number of my clients have nervous or reactive dogs and I've shown them all the amazing activities you can do at home to help dogs grow the skills they’re lacking to be happy on walks.
"Skipping some walks can help both dogs and owners alike destress. When more than half of walks are stressful (for the dog or you), it's time to do something different."
She added: "Playing games at home is a great way to build skills our dogs need and boost our relationship with them.
"It's good to have other things in your toolkit. This applies to all dogs and surprisingly it can work best for breeds that need lots of exercise."
But if you're struggling to train your pet pooch, we might have a story that will change your mind.
Take Bailey – he was once described as 'unruly, untrainable, unsociable, rude and stubborn', but the stray Labrador has proven the haters wrong and found a new life as a service dog.
Dogs Trust in Loughborough asked if someone out there was able to take Bailey home, and were worried the pooch was a lost cause because of his complex nature.
Luckily, Essex Fire Service dog handler Graham Currie came to the rescue, and Bailey soon proved his natural talents.
Currie told the BBC he had been looking for a new dog to train, and while he knew Labradors had a reputation of being 'greedy', he soon discovered there was something Bailey loved more than food.
"After testing Bailey's drive for a tennis ball and checking he had no aggression towards other dogs or people, I offered to take him on a six-week trial," he said.
"He was described as unruly, untrainable, unsociable, rude and stubborn. But a dog that cost us £185 has turned out to be the most incredible creature."