Dog owners sensationally told not to walk pets every day as trainer upends years of adviceApril 4, 2022
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A daily walk with a pooch often forms part of a pet’s routine and is said to promote health and fitness in our furry friends. However, Professional trainer Niki French, 53, believes a daily walk is an old and outdated practice.
Ms French has revealed that skipping the daily walk with your pup can benefit them in many ways.
The bestselling author of ‘STOP Walking Your Dog’ instead encourages pet owners to sometimes replace their usual 30-minute hike with an alternative, more stimulating activity.
She recommends replacing walk time with training games at home to promote wellbeing in canines.
Niki told The Mirror: “It might come as a surprise, but traditional walks are a human invention and aren’t helpful for many of our dogs.
“Replacing walk time with training games at home can give the dogs the skills they’re missing to live calm and happy lives.”
Niki launched her first Don’t Walk Your Dog Day on Saturday, April 2, to raise awareness that “not all dogs thrive on daily walks”.
She said: “Contrary to popular belief, dogs with behaviour struggles can get more reactive or more excitable when we try to exhaust them through too much exercise.”
Niki is the proud owner of a two-year-old rescue dog named Bodie, who is “noticeably calmer” after walking less and taking part in more enrichment games.
She said: “A growing number of my clients have nervous or reactive dogs and I’ve shown them all the amazing activities you can do at home to help dogs grow the skills they’re lacking to be happy on walks.
“Skipping some walks can help both dogs and owners alike destress.
“When more than half of walks are stressful (for the dog or you), it’s time to do something different.”
Pet owners should also skip a walk, for example, if the weather is too hot or cold, it can be dangerous to the dog.
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Also for new puppies that aren’t vaccinated, and dogs who are unwell, a walk might not be best.
Niki said: “Playing games at home is a great way to build skills our dogs need and boost our relationship with them.”
She became a dog trainer three years ago after having a life-long passion for animals.
The trainer focuses on positive reward and enrichment games like digging sandpits, playing with cardboard boxes, using lick mats and hide-and-seek activities.
She said: “It’s good to have other things in your toolkit. This applies to all dogs and surprisingly it can work best for breeds that need lots of exercise.”
For some owners, who have reactive or anxious pets, it can be intimidating and stressful leaving the house for a simple walk.
She said: “I want these people to know that they aren’t alone, and we aren’t judging them.”
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