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The Importance Of Walking Your Dog.

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I see a number of threads about leashed behavior, walking the dog, behavior issues, exercise needs etc. So many of these things and more, come together and are addressed in walking your dog on the leash. It seems terribly simplistic to say, but it is true (and it is that simple). At the risk of telling you all what you already know in one form or another:

 

Many years ago, while involved with shepherd dogs, we used to really push the importance of walking your dog. Shepherd breeds, and most breeds to some extent, need physical and mental stimulation regularly or there will be serious consequences. That is why these highly intelligent dogs have so many active rescue organizations. People don't realize these needs and give up the dogs when behavior issues develop. While greys have the reputation of being couch potatoes and being low in trainability (NOT the same as intelligence), they actually benefit from exposure to many of the same principles related to working with high activity, high intelligence breeds. They do need both mental and physical stimulation (how they react to it varies of course). I have applied this to all of my greys and foster greys over the years, including spooks, vecros, and aggressives, and it always works to some degree. Greys are more than potatoes, and are actually above average intelligence (sources vary on this, also not to be confused with trainability). When done a certain way, walking the dog can be exercise, training, and therapy. It can be as simple as you walking the dog, and not letting the dog walk you.

 

Benefits of walking your grey (or any other dog):

 

Exercise - for the both of you.
Bonding - from shared activity and development of trust.
Reduce Stress - by providing both stimulation and exercise you tire your grey out, mentally and physically.
Reinforce Roles - You are the boss. You are in control. You set the pace, you set the path.
Socialization - and adjustment to the outside world.
Routine - he gets/stays used to being on the lead and doing his business on the lead.

 

When you walk your dog, you expose him to the outside world in a controlled bubble that reinforces the fact that you are the one in charge. You provide mental stimulation and physical exertion that helps reduce stress, anxiety, and behavior issues. You increase the odds that anytime a leash is clipped onto your dog, he will behave (it may not be just you that has to take him on the lead -things happen), and you also maintain him doing his business on the lead as a routine event. You build a comfort zone for your dog from the familiarity of the leash and the controlled environment of the walk. It also reinforces behavior that is desirable such as heeling, stopping at cross streets, better focus, and general obedience. The walk is its own reward for good behavior and over time, the more control that you maintain while doing it, the better the reward will be, because it will be more enjoyable for both of you. It helps your dog to trust you and increases the bond between you. It also makes the leash less of an event and more of a routine in general.

 

This I learned with Aussies, but it is just as true with Greys: When you set the pace slower than your dog's natural pace, he has to think about what he is doing and it will actually tire him out faster. He will still be exposed to the stimuli from the walk itself, but the unnatural gait will tire him both mentally and physically. It also reinforces your role as the boss, which helps with obedience in general. If he pulls, while on the lead, then you stop and wait until he stops pulling before moving on. In the beginning, this will be a bit frustrating and will wear you both out very quickly, but over time it makes for a much more enjoyable experience for all involved. It's also easier than yanking on the lead and/or yelling to heel or stop, and reinforces the fact that you are leading him and he is matching pace to you.

 

This isn't about absolute control over your grey and absolute obedience, even though I have used the words control and obedience several times each. It's about have a well adjusted retired racer, who feels secure in your presence and behaves while on lead. If done correctly in the beginning, the walk becomes less about the outside world and more about quality time for both of you. At the same time, the walk becomes more than just the walk, as you build a bond and trust between you that will affect all aspects of your grey's life.

 

I absolutely think having a fenced yard is a benefit for both you and your grey. As is the opportunity to run off lead (when a safe opportunity and environment allows, such as in a fenced park). But they are no substitute for the walk. Even ten minutes of walk time a day, if he is getting enough exercise in the yard, makes a noticeable difference. Again, you walk the dog, not the other way around.

 

Many grey people I know don't train their greys a lot of tricks, instead placing their emphasis on a comfortable retirement and acceptable behavior. There have been greys go on to agility training, obedience recognition, therapy or other service, but the majority of retired racers just become companions. Adjustment to home life is paramount. Behavior is a big part of that. Walking can be an amazingly powerful tool.

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Absolutely agree with this, my two live for their morning and evening walks (especially the evening when we have more time).

 

One thing I might add is to remember the dog sees the world through by nose, so I think it is important to give the dog time to sniff around. That is, while you certainly need to control the dog and the dog should not be pulling on the leash, I don't think it is good to strictly heel" all the time. The dog needs to be given freer leash during at least part of the walk to investigate bushes etc.


Rob
Logan - LoganMaxicon15K.jpg - Max (Aug. 4, 2004 - Jan. 11, 2018)

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I would love to walk with mine more, but our neighborhood is rife with off leash, loose, and uncontrolled dogs, making any walk more stressful than useful. Mine have to make due with our large yard and the few times a week/month we can jump in the car and go somewhere safe. Unfortunately, as seen in several threads active now, this problem is prevelant all over, and walking anywhere can be dangerous.


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Hi. I totally agree with some things you suggest, and totally disagree with some others.

 

A lot of what you say is about your controlling the dog to do what you want the dog to do, and disregards what may be in the best interest of the dog. Every dog is an individual with it's own genetics and life experiences, and it's own ideal path to reach a happy balanced life. When we get a 'typical' ex-racer, it's our responsibility/obligation to give the ideal help that each individual dog needs.

 

Nothing personal but ... in my experience when someone says that dog behaviour is as simple as doing ... whatever, he/she usually draws from limited knowledge IMO.

 

Having said that, yes walking the dog appropriately is usually a good start. Cheers. :)

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I think that greyhounds who DON'T have fenced yards, particularly single ones like mine, actually get more regular exercise. Let's face it, many single dogs just don't do much when you open up your back door and let them out.


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Susan,  Marcai's Mister Bigglesworth (AKA Da Evil Won), and Sleekat's Nikita Stanislav. Missing Ming and George (Driven by Chile) and Buck (Vogo Player)

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A lot of what you say is about your controlling the dog to do what you want the dog to do, and disregards what may be in the best interest of the dog. Every dog is an individual with it's own genetics and life experiences, and it's own ideal path to reach a happy balanced life. When we get a 'typical' ex-racer, it's our responsibility/obligation to give the ideal help that each individual dog needs.

Which is why I clarified with it not being about absolute control or absolute obedience. I've used this on all types of greys and it works. Period. Obviously we need to respond to each dog's need individually, but this works. Compared to many of the other, less passive, methods of "showing who's Alpha" it is simple and it is effective, and contributes to a well adjusted grey in the home. It builds trust and bonding. Unless your dog is physically unable to walk, or you try to walk in an unsafe environment, I've yet to see it disregard the best interest of the dog. They all end up asking for the walk, and none of them end up needing to be on a tight leash.

 

I also have a large fenced yard where we have active play time, so they don't need the walk for exercise. I am very passive with them in training, limiting it to things they need to know to live in a house. Tricks aren't necessary, but responses such as stop, come, leave it, are. If done a certain way, they can learn all this on the walk. They get to sniff, pee and explore, but they also respond to ignoring many distractions and continuing to move past certain situations without escalating them. Some dogs respond faster than others, some dogs respond better than others, but they all end up responding, and it helps their adjustment to their new life. As I said in my OP , I have found it very effective with a variety of greys over the years, and a number of other breeds before that, and that the response varies, but it really is a simple way to work with your grey. Especially when compared to some of the dog psychology out there. It just takes patience, and a willingness to be consistent. I have found it to be effective on fosters that were returned because they had behavior problems or didn't listen. It's a relatively easy and passive way to give your dog comfort in knowing that someone (you) is in charge. In the end, you are just walking your dog. Simple. You are just not letting him lead.

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I think that greyhounds who DON'T have fenced yards, particularly single ones like mine, actually get more regular exercise. Let's face it, many single dogs just don't do much when you open up your back door and let them out.

 

I can see this being true in many cases. For a while we only had Carlos, and this guy would lay down in the aisle of Petsmart for a nap if you were moving too slow. The temptation to just let your dog out, rather than take him out, exists. People without fenced yards do not have this temptation, so the dogs have to be walked.

 

Carlos would come out into the yard and lay down in the sun. I would have to grab the box of tennis balls and Frisbees and throw them one at a time for him to chase to get some exercise and loosen him up. He still does not fetch (otherwise we could just use one ball :) ), so we adapted to him to get him moving. Now that Frida has come out of her shell, they will run and play on their own. They still get the walks though, and at least now they can be walked together.

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I would love to walk with mine more, but our neighborhood is rife with off leash, loose, and uncontrolled dogs, making any walk more stressful than useful. Mine have to make due with our large yard and the few times a week/month we can jump in the car and go somewhere safe. Unfortunately, as seen in several threads active now, this problem is prevelant all over, and walking anywhere can be dangerous.

 

I know what you mean. I have had to change routes because of other dogs, and have had one of my dogs attacked by a cat. My Frida was a severe spook when we got her, so even too much traffic was too much for her, and I am not on a busy street. We had to make real accommodations for her walk time in order to make it a positive, desirable experience. We started in the yard, then just to the corner, then drove her to a park. Now she walks the same route as Carlos at the same time and looks forward to it, but we still avoid certain areas.

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We don't have a fenced-in yard either, and going for a walk is such a joyful time for our greys. They look around and sniff and also learn to approach others (dog and human) with curiosity and respect. It is a wonderful bonding time for us with them as well.

 

I agree with Susan that dogs without fenced yards probably get more exercise than those whose homes have a fenced yard. A tired greyhound is a good greyhound! It also provides excellent daily exercise for the humans.


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Humans Kathy and Jim with our girls Beka (BM Beko) and Ivy (Carolina Spoon)

Missing our beautiful angel Breeze (Dighton Breeze) - you are forever in our hearts.

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We have a fenced yard and the hounds do regular zoomies a couple of times a day.

It is also wonderful thing not having to leash up 3 dogs every time one of them has to pee!

 

However... they love their walks (me too!) and we try and get out walking every single day for 45-60 minutes.

 

We are very rural and thankfully are not bothered by too many dogs on the quiet road we walk along. The couple of dogs that are loose are friendly and don't stray past the end of their driveway. We did have a nasty incident a few years ago, but that dog is gone.

We also have trails through our woods and many acres of hay fields to enjoy.


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I think that greyhounds who DON'T have fenced yards, particularly single ones like mine, actually get more regular exercise. Let's face it, many single dogs just don't do much when you open up your back door and let them out.

 

This. Annie too is an only -- and loves it. We have a good size fenced backyard. She uses it to P&P at her first and last turn out of the day. She does not play. She does not do zoomies. She doesn't even like to lay on the grass in the sun. Even when we have Greyhound friends over, she won't play in the yard. During the day we take two long walks, and this is her greatest enjoyment and form of exercise. She walks, she sniffs, she meets people (she *loves* people).

 

As the op says, walking is greyt for our hounds and us, and unless someone is very, very new to dog ownership, we all know it.

Edited by Feisty49

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Every dog is an individual being. Suggesting that controlled walks are the key to 'everything' seems uneducated, and doesn't recognise dogs' complexity.

 

I do agree that a couple/few appropriate walks each day can be good, even greyt, for both dog/s and owner/s. My dogs have gradually been allowed run of the house and yard, and they get daily on-leash walks and off-leash time.

Cheers.

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Guest GreyOrchard

Completely agree that it is so very important to regularly walk your greyhound.

 

Rather than thinking about who is "boss", however, when it comes to greyhounds it can be more useful to think of it as establishing or reinforcing the patnership or pairing, of dog and human: going out for a leashed walk is something "we" do together, as a unit.

 

One of the benefits of consistent walking is that once you have done it enough, IF your greyhound ever gets off leash, he or she might have a little independent sniff here or there, but since they are creatures of habit, it will feel strange to be completely alone. Often, they will come looking for you because it is what feels familiar, because sniffing around outside is what you two do together.

 

It's also a great way for even the most frightened or insecure of greyhounds to gain confidence and begin to genuinely enjoy human companionship. And a great way to start teaching some basic cues (I prefer the word cues to commands).

 

Even if you live in a an area where it's not easy to walk your dogs, just putting them in the car and taking them someplace nice on a regular basis will have incredible benefits.

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We love walking and hiking but I have to drive them 30-40 minutes to somewhere safe. My road and this area in general is littered with unsocialized and (some) dog-aggressive loose dogs. I take them as often as I can to parks and such. We do have a fenced yard and my dogs get daily hard running in (three cheers for lure poles, balls, and tireless Ibizan Hounds that get those lazy Greyhound butts moving until they drop) but walks give such a nice change of pace, scenery, and overall experience. They are very important.

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I think that greyhounds who DON'T have fenced yards, particularly single ones like mine, actually get more regular exercise. Let's face it, many single dogs just don't do much when you open up your back door and let them out.

That's true. I have a fenced yard and I know my dog doesn't get the regular exercise, and walking-time-bonding that she'd get if I didn't have it. We do take walks, but not for every potty break. But I DO love my fenced yard, and I'm quite sure in bad weather my dog wouldn't get much more exercise if she was leash-walked. She'd do her business and want in immediately. We also play in our fenced yard. Greyhound fetch, running around together, and she follows me while I do yard-work, my little shadow. Ever try to rake leaves or plant flowers with a greyhound under your elbow or between your legs? LOL!

 

But if I didn't have a fenced yard, I wouldn't have dogs. It's a lifesyle choice.

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Guest xengab

Thanks. We've done walks from day one of getting him. Had him 2 1/2 months now and each day is an adventure. We've been attacked by a small dog, I defended him well and it HELP him trust me more. He is more confident on a walk with me compared to walking with my husband, with him he is more jumpy and spooks. I've been able to show him what I will do when put to the test, and the bond grows.

We got him to help us walk more, be a family member and company for our cat (who'd happily come on walks too but can't).

 

Walking helps everyone, I dont expect training to happen overnight, progress can be seen by others who saw him the first few days. Just small dogs freak him out.(no matter how calm they are)

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Interesting re: walking as therapy. I feel that walks have been the most important part of bringing our spooky girl out of her shell and are a time when she forgets being nervous and gets lost in the excitement of new smells and sights.

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Guest GreyOrchard

Interesting re: walking as therapy. I feel that walks have been the most important part of bringing our spooky girl out of her shell and are a time when she forgets being nervous and gets lost in the excitement of new smells and sights.

Yes, that's exactly how I see walking as therapy....as the anxious or nervous greyhound gets distracted by new sights and smells, for a moment they forget themselves and their fears/ Eventually those moments become longer and more frequent. Of course, how you hold the leash and shield your greyhound from threats, as well as where and when you choose to walk according to what your greyhound can take in are important factors in this.

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Guest Amber

I have a secure garden but it's not really used for exercise, partly because it's not very well laid out for zoomies (only smallish area of grass, heavy planted large borders, and ornamental, i don't want my dog wrecking my garden which i spend many hours working on). We used to play some fetch in the garden, but since she got a corn and various sprains, not so much, cos there's a lot of hard landscaping and not really enough open space.

 

So our main thing is walks and in safe, open areas running and playing ball off leash. Walks basically socialised my dog. I did attend training class and agility class too for socialising with other breed dogs but mostly her confidence has been built up out on walks. And she really loves her walks, but is not that enthusiastic about time spent in the garden.

Edited by Amber

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Also reading this again - interesting re a slow pace being more tiring. I took my hounds out for a walk and stopped quite a few times to pick blackberries. At the time I felt bad about keeping the dogs stopping and waiting, but when we got home they couldn't keep their eyes open.

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Guest TeriD

I think that greyhounds who DON'T have fenced yards, particularly single ones like mine, actually get more regular exercise. Let's face it, many single dogs just don't do much when you open up your back door and let them out.

agreed!! I don't have a fenced in yard but when we do take Rosey to a dog park she just trots around. Half the time just following me (which I make in to a game to see if she follows me when I zig zag around. She does!)

 

But thank you for this post!! I walk my grey 4 x a day. I'd say its about a 20-30 minute walk each. Nothing major but I love it. I actually consider it like a meditation where I can decompress and enjoy my bond with Rosey. But there are times where she's walking much faster than me and I didn't know what to do about it. She doesn't care much for a harness so I hate tugging on her collar. Now I'm just going to stop and see how that goes. Thanks again for the reinforcement and encouragement!

Edited by TeriD

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It may take awhile for her to catch on, but like most things grey, it just takes patience and consistency. With you walking 4x a day, she should catch on pretty quick. Once they stop pulling, the walk just becomes so much more enjoyable for both of you, and you can let the leash out a bit more for sniffs and looks. Once you get the second dog, it becomes that much easier to walk both.

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Guest xengab

We used one harness, dog still pulled.

Then we switched to a no pull harness that has a velvet underbelly strip, and now he isnt pulling as much. (from two walks). So the type of harness can impact what they do. I jog him in the mornings, and then he gets a slow walk in the evenings.

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Guest OrangeCounty

My timid girl that I've had for about a month and a half pulls/leads a ton on walks and is a very big sniffer especially in new areas, which is understandable. I've tried the freedom no-pull harness (didn't really make a difference), and have started using the gentle leader (where I walk her and correct her for 15 minutes, then let her sniff around for 5 minutes and repeat), which has helped a little bit more than the harness. I also tried stopping every time she pulls, but as soon as I start to take a step forward she starts pulling again. This makes for some frustrating walks. The only time she won't really pull is when I take her out to potty since this is the same familiar path every single time. Does any one else have any ideas or success stories/timelines regarding their grey that was a puller and now walks nicely on a leash (especially in new areas)? I know it all takes time, but I'm just feeling a little frustrated!

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