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The Shocking Truth about Exercise

Here is it, are you ready for it? I don't exercise the dogs I walk. There. I've said it. I've confessed. This dog walker does not exercise the dogs in her care. So what do I do with them? The dogs and I go on expeditions around the forest instead. I don't even 'lead' the expeditions. I guide the dogs around interesting places, and let them find out things for themselves, by sight, scent and sound. I don't cycle, I don't jog, and I don't force the dogs to keep moving. We walk briskly, but there is always time to stop if there's a particularly interesting smell somewhere.

We'll also stop for a few minutes if we see another regular walker with dogs. The scary truth is that dogs will meet other dogs through their lives, and although there are times when it's best not to let the dogs greet, seeing regular dogs on our travels is a good thing. The more dogs interact appropriately, the more they practise their communication skills. And practise makes perfect! Plus they get to learn that sometimes they just have to hang around for a few minutes while the grown-ups talk and they learn to do so politely, quietly and calmly, as they know the fun will start again very soon. I'll also randomly drop treats, and send the dogs to find them where possible. Or ask for a sit or two. To begin with at the end of a walk, slowly moving towards being able to get calm behaviour as they leave the van ready for their walk, and eventually, to sit and focus on me in the presence of other dogs, humans, or other distractions.

Or we might do a bit of 'wild' agility, climbing over logs, ducking under low hanging branches, jumping over puddles, dragging the biggest branch in the world along with us for a few feet (the smaller the dog, the bigger the branch they want to bring on the expedition), or just zooooming around as fast as they can for a mad few minutes. I prefer that as a spectator sport... The dogs really appreciate being taken outside to explore the world, especially when they have members of their own species to explore it with. Another dog might pick up the scent or sight of something not to be missed! Two sets of eyes, ears or noses are better than one!

The dogs are always keen to come with me, happy to be taken home at the end of the walk, and, according to the owners who are home, content to spend all afternoon sleeping off the energy burned!

'Exercise' happens while we're doing other things.

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