Lots of people who have dogs rarely walk them. A recent UK study found that fewer than half of the respondents walked their dogs daily, and that, when they did, the walks were very short. I read a similar study several years ago on US dog owners.
Some dog owners leave their dogs outside (alone) for several hours a day, assuming that the dog will take care of her own exercise and toileting needs.
That’s not okay. Why bother haveing a dog if you are not going to meet her needs and take care of her?
Dogs are very social and need to be part of a family group. If you have two dogs, they can provide company for one another (if they like each other), but they still need their human family. It’s not enough to put down food twice a day and open the door to send the dog outside.
Walks provide mental stimulation and a chance to bond. They allow dogs to catch up on the news and explore the world beyond their own house and yard. They are also great for the people, providing regular exercise, fresh air, and a chance to relax.
Even better for the dog — a chance to run off leash while the human walks. If you are fortunate enough to live near an open space where it’s safe to hike with your dog off leash, try to build that into your schedule at least a couple times a month.
I know that many people who have dogs work full time and also have families. They don’t have a lot of free time. But the dog is a member of the family and deserves some attention too. Make play and exercise time with the dog a high-priority part of your daily schedule. You’ll all feel better and, guess what? Your restless, high energy dog will be better behaved, because she’ll be getting her needs met for exercise, mental stimulation, and connection with her family.
7 thoughts on “Why bother?”
For the back yard? A lawn ornament….NOT a dog. As a rescue, we see many ignores dogs. It is the reason we do not always require that adopters have fenced yards. Too easy to just leave the dog out there. I have had strays come in to rescue, find the owner who admits they didn’t even know the dog was missing from the backyard!!!!
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Honestly, when rescues hard core WILL NOT place a dog in a home unless the person has a fence, regardless of how responsible the person is, I think that is pretty stupid and not in the dog’s best interest. I don’t have a fenced yard, but my dog gets off leash walks and training, whereas some of my neighbors have fenced yards, but they leave their dogs to bark all day and hardly ever interact with them.
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“Why bother haveing a dog if you are not going to meet her needs and take care of her?” That is what I wonder every single day. I see so many dogs who are treated almost like furry house plants; feed them, water them, let them out to potty, and the job is done. If that’s what one wants, well gosh… get a gerbil or something. I am in college and my dog gets more exercise and mental stimulation in a day than some of my neighbors’ dogs get in their entire lives. It’s not because I’m not busy but because I make her a priority. I got her because I truly wanted (and, well… needed) her. If I didn’t, I’d have gotten a stuffed animal.
These forgotten backyard dogs end up at shelters and rescues. They are generally socialized and often are buyers as they are not used to human contact. Very sad!
Cool article, but I feel guilty as hell now!
Your dog has a great life. You don’t leave him outside alone all the time. He’s hardly ever home alone! He’s living the doggy dream!