Ever go to someone’s house and their dog is frantically running in circles, pacing and chewing inappropriate things- like the furniture? It’s really quite an uncomfortable situation for all involved, especially the dog itself. Fortunately, I was at an acquaintance’s house and I was in the position to be blunt. The problem was easy to solve- the dog needed exercise, ASAP.
Both large and small dogs require structured walks with their handler. Running in the garden or chasing a ball doesn’t fill the requirement. Since domestication has only occurred within a relatively short time frame (about 15,000 years or so), canines still have the instinct to roam. They want and need exercise.
You’ll benefit too. Walking your dog on a leash by your side lets them know that you are their leader; it reinforces your role. The health benefits of a fit dog are obvious as well. However, the benefit you’ll notice in the short term is their balanced, calm state of mind. Inappropriate behavior in the house is often the result of anxiety and the anxiety is often curable with a 20-minute jaunt around the block.
German shepherds and other herding dogs such as Belgian malinois and Dutch shepherds need to be walked. Sometimes my clients will see this as a drawback to owning a personal protection dog. Yet once they get into the habit, they view it as a great opportunity to strengthen the bond they share. Exercising with your dog is akin to the human/family bonding ritual of eating dinner together.
Exercise can help a host of behavioral problems in dogs just like it can help reduce anxiety and other health problems in humans. Family members should alternate walking duties. Ideally, two twenty-minute walks or at least one longer walk each day is needed. I know that there are days when you just won’t feel like going for a walk. But just think: as much as you don’t want to, your dog DOES want to…and needs to.
So consider the benefits. Your dog protects you and the family, looks after the home, provides companionship, and makes your life happier and safer. A good way to return the favor? Grab the lead and go.