Why I don’t walk my dog

Why I don’t walk my dog

Why I Don't Walk My Dog: Promoting Calmness and Patience

There's a common maxim amongst dog owners – "A tired dog is a happy dog." But for certain breeds, particularly gundogs, the traditional "walk" could be counterproductive to their training and mindset. This post explores the reasoning behind why some handlers opt not to walk their gundogs in the conventional sense and how this can foster calmness, patience, and other valued traits within the discipline of gundog training.

Understanding Gundogs: Breeds Built for Purpose

Gundogs, specifically bred for hunting and retrieving game, have an innate drive to work closely with humans, boasting traits such as intelligence, a good nose, and an eagerness to please. These traits are ideal for their designated jobs, yet they can become overshadowed by overzealous behaviour if not directed correctly.

The Myth of the Daily Walk: Challenging Conventional Wisdom

The daily walk can be seen as a hallmark of responsible dog ownership. However, for many gundog handlers, it's not about how much exercise the dog gets, but rather the quality of the activities. High-energy workouts without purpose can often leave gundogs more wired and self rewarding, exciting their instincts without the proper context – not ideal for dogs required to be patient and steady in the field.

Fostering Mental Stimulation Over Physical Exhaustion

Gundog training places a premium on mental engagement over mere physical exertion. Here's why and how it's done:

  • Cultivating Patience: Gundogs must often remain stationary and quiet for extended periods during drives. Regular walking, especially in high-distraction environments, can encourage a heightened state of arousal and reduced impulse control.
  • Training for the Task: Instead of walking, handlers engage in structured play and purposeful training. Retrieving drills, scent work, hunting and steadiness exercises are common activities that condition the dog both mentally and physically while reinforcing their training.
  • Creating a Calm Environment: By controlling the surroundings and providing a calm atmosphere, handlers can better instill a sense of peace and readiness in their gundogs. This approach helps manage the dogs' excitement levels and makes them more receptive to handler cues.

Alternatives to Traditional Dog Walking

As an alternative to the "walk," these activities can create a well-rounded routine for any dog, not only gundogs

  • Controlled Free Runs: Allowing the dog to explore and sniff within a safe, enclosed space provides both physical exercise and mental relief.
  • Retrieval Practice: Using dummies or game-like toys in a controlled environment mimics the experiences they'll have on the field.
  • Scent Trails/Hunting: Setting up scent trails or hiding balls in cover for your dog to follow engages their natural hunting instincts in a productive manner.
  • Obedience Training: Daily sessions reinforce commands and behaviours required in the field and general life, ensuring that your dog maintains focus and discipline everyday.

Conclusion: Quality Over Quantity

Walking a dog is not merely about letting them stretch their legs; it's about engaging them in a manner that supplements their inherent abilities and training. For dog owners, shifting the emphasis from the traditional dog walk to more targeted exercises can fortify the special skills these dogs need to develop.

In the realm of gundog training, calmness, patience, and precision are virtues. By opting for an alternative approach that aligns closely with these values, handlers pave the way for a more focused, responsive, and ultimately satisfied gundog.

Dog ownership comes with a myriad of approaches and philosophies that vary based on breed, job, and individual characteristics. We hope this exploration into the world of gundog training has provided useful insights that resonate with your approach to dog training.

Whether you have a gundog or a family pet, remember that each dog is an individual. I am not saying never walk your dog but the general approach I am aiming for is try offer more structure to your walks. Get your dogs engaging more with you instead of them self rewarding and running off. This could be in the form of practicing recall, sit stays, retrieving or just some heel work whilst on your walk. A dog that’s engaged with you wants to listen to you. Always aim to tailor your routine to fit your dog's needs, personality and purpose ensuring a happy and well-adjusted canine companion.


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