I walk my dog everyday, but she’s always on a leash when I walk her, and I wonder if she’s getting enough exercise. What’s your opinion?
This is a tricky one. Leash-walking is great, but all dogs (like all people) benefit from the freedom to run at their own pace, stopping to sniff a tree here, racing off in pursuit of a chipmunk there. The question is, where to do it?
Dog parks are a wonderful option, if standing around chatting while your dog has all the fun floats your boat!
As for me, I’d rather be running. So several times a week I head to my local park with my big black lab where we engage in the joyful conduct of running or hiking, mostly off-leash. I’m not implying that you should participate in this activity, as it’s less than legal, but in case you do, I’ll share my personal rules:
Be respectful of people who don’t have dogs with them. I always grab my dog’s collar or put him on a leash when bikers, horseback riders or other people without dogs (or even people with dogs who are on a leash) are approaching. Understandably, many people are frightened of dogs or would rather not worry about crashing into or being chased by them or simply don’t appreciate being slimed with slobber.
When possible, go to the park during non-peak hours, such as early mornings, weekdays or cold, rainy, snowy or icy days (crampons work great for hiking and running on ice).
Choose less-traveled trails.
Always carry a plastic bag and use it. Especially along the trails. I often pick up other dog’s poop in addition to my own dog’s, or use a stick to fling it off the trail, then bury it. I figure a little stewardship can go a long way in maximizing everyone’s enjoyment of our gem of a park, non-dog people and dog-lovers, alike.