At home, we have a wonderful big yard with plenty of grass, a Southern garden, trees, and many places for dogs to explore and smell everything. We enclosed approximately a half acre of the land with coral fence that matches those used at some of the neighboring horse farms. We also attached metal fencing to the wood coral fencing to make sure our smaller dogs couldn’t squeeze between the rungs or beneath the fence.
This also helps to deter many of the wild critters from entering our yard, though the opossums walk along the top of the fence and rabbits occasionally squeeze under the smaller openings. It’s really an ideal setting for our dogs to run and play. It provides them plenty of outdoor time. However, we still walk our dogs in a local park once or twice a day. We believe it’s good for their behavior. It made me wonder: Do you walk your dog regularly?
If you live in a big city, you often don’t have a home with a big yard in which to let your dog run and play. Instead, you’ll probably hire a dog walker to come at least once a day. I’ve heard that some dogs are left inside their homes for the entire day with piddle pads while their human companions are at work. So, these dogs are walked in the morning and once or twice at night. Still others are provided access to a doggie door to come and go in their backyard as they need to.
We have people in our neighborhood who leave their dogs outside in their fenced backyards the entire day. Some of these people go to work, and others stay at home and choose to leave the dogs outside anyway. From my observation, this results in bad behavior. These dogs don’t seem mentally stimulated and often get bored. This is when they tend to get into mischief. They’ll dig large holes near the fence or back gate to burn off their excess energy. They’ll chew and claw the fence posts out of sheer boredom. On more than one occasion they’ve pushed the gate open and ran around the neighborhood.
In addition to her dog-friendly back yard, Dusty gets one to two walks per day at one of our neighborhood parks. We like to mix things up by choosing a different park each time. This provides her with steady exercise by running, playing, and walking in the park. It also provides her with mental stimulation that she needs in order to keep her from getting bored with the same routine.
Within each park, there are areas to run, walk, and explore. Each has different activities going on depending on the time of day. Some are very quiet, allowing Dusty to sniff everything in sight while still focusing on the task at hand. Others have children’s playgrounds, joggers, bikers, and other people walking their dogs. This has taught Dusty not to get too excited around active children. She actually enjoys the constant motion of children in play — at least until she gets physically tired or bored of the games they’re playing. People who jog or bike by her don’t seem to bother her at all.
At first she was leery of other dogs, especially the larger dogs. Now, after introducing her to other dogs while she is on leash, she’s grown very comfortable around them. In fact, she often looks for other dogs being walked and wants to socialize with them. This allows us not to worry, and gives us a chance to visit with other dogs and meet some new dog-loving people along the way.
Just the other morning, we took Dusty out to a larger park and allowed her to run on her longer leash in the freshly mowed fields. She ran around until she had exhausted all of her energy. She slowed to a walking pace and her tongue began hanging out. We always make sure to monitor her activity to ensure she doesn’t get overheated. It’s time to leave when she starts looking around for her car and wants to make her way back to it. Upon getting in the car, we set the air conditioning to the lowest temp. When we got home, she promptly retreated to her favorite spot for a long and peaceful siesta.
Later that same evening we took her to another park. This park was quiet and much smaller than the one we visited earlier that day. This park allowed her to walk the paved paths and visit the local playground, which had wood mulch and sand in the play areas and a small shady area to explore. This walk was much more controlled and allowed her more time to take in the smells around her. We left the park when she showed signs that she was ready to leave. When we arrived home, we got everything ready for a good night’s sleep. Dusty actually slept an hour longer than she usually does. This made us extremely happy, since we love to sleep in as long as possible.
All of the additional walks continue to make Dusty a healthy and happy girl. She stays physically and mentally stimulated every day. We’ve also benefited by staying physically active and resting better and longer each night.
I feel that it’s great if you can provide your dog a big fenced yard in which to run, play, and explore. However, it’s even more important to walk your dog once or twice a day. Provide your dogs with plenty of mental and physical stimulation. Remember, a tired dog is a happy dog!
Do you leave your dogs in a fenced yard? Do you walk your own dogs or do you hire someone? Tell us your routine in the comments!
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