Want to go for a W-A-L-K?


Are you one of those dog owners who have to spell the 'W' word rather than say it! For loads of dogs the W-A-L-K word means so many great things are about to happen that they cannot contain their excitement. A 30 kilo dog is then running around the house and if you live in a multiple dog household this can actually be quite dangerous.


Dogs are super clever and learn our body language and our behaviour patterns. That is how they anticipate that good things are about to happen. Even the closing of a laptop at a certain time of day, especially if it is the same time everyday, gives a clear signal to your dog that a W-A-L-K might just be a possibility!


What is fascinating is to work out why going for a W-A-L-K is so powerful a reward that dogs behave in this way. For most dogs any outing provokes a highly aroused canine. Going out offers dogs opportunities for enriching activities such as sniffing, playing, weeing, pooing, exploring and of course rolling and eating the most disgusting items such as other animal poo! On top of these amazing opportunities there maybe meets-and-greets, leaving we emails , and sex although we hope NOT!! All of these activities are not readily available at home and that is the difference.


Of course the more we offer our domestic dogs especially exciting visits to local beaches, forests, lakes, mud flats to roll in, picnic parks the chance that these may be on offer are extra drive up excitement that that potential visit may be on offer. Dogs today as unlike their ancestors where free roaming offered these opportunities all day everyday , these are smells and activities they do not encounter at home. Some dogs like particular activities more than others so we naturally offer these more on our daily outings, With a family dog who loves meeting people we tend to go to local parks with lots of people and our outings become even more valuable and exciting for our dogs. Some dogs just love physical exercise and going for a run. Dogs were not designed to lie around waiting for their owners to come home!


I find it remarkable that even when we go again and again to the same place with our dog, they convey the same level of excitement and urgency to get on with their activities every single time we visit! They sniff, roll, run and socialise the same as on the previous visit with the same level of gusto or sometimes even more!! Why does that piece of grass in the park offer such pleasure to roll in when grass is at home? But other dogs have rolled there, maybe left a wee email or an animal scent is present. Dogs live by scent and in a world of smells going out offers those opportunities to gain pleasure form new smells every day. Also rolling in that piece of grass means they can TOO leave their scent for others to pick up. maybe rolling in grass releases other dogs odours and information for our dogs to gather. Maybe certain types of grasses which offer different textures and hence offer various pleasure effects. My own dog loves long grasses but never rolls on my back garden!


Finally, it is worth remembering what our dogs are bred to do and what stimuli and activities outside are more inherently rewarding than others. Sledding breeds are bred to run and pull so for them running and pulling maybe innately rewarding. Whereas Terriers might find hunting around in shrubs for small animals innately rewarding , while Border Collies and other herding dogs can find chasing moving objects innately rewarding.


So, when considering what type of dog fits best into your home , a good place to start is to consider what they where originally bred to do and being aware that the arrival of W-A-L-K maybe just the best part of their day EVERYDAY!!