Because of the current situation where outdoor activities have been limited due to the pandemic, dog owners may ask: Is It OK not to walk your dogs every day?
That’s totally OK. Sometimes it is impossible to take your dogs out daily. Your dog would still be healthy even if you take him for a walk at least three times a week, as long as you make sure that he still gets an active play at home every day.
Not walking your dog doesn’t make you a bad fur parent, and you should not feel bad about it at all. In fact, researching what to do if you can’t walk your dog means you are concerned about their wellness.
Here are some tips to help you out on what you should do if you have to keep your furbaby indoors.
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What are the benefits of walking your dog daily?
While not walking your dog daily is completely fine provided that you provide them physically and mentally stimulating activities, here are some inspirations to motivate you to walk your dog daily, when it is possible.
Dogs love the outdoors
There’s something about our home that is so comforting that we often dread leaving it. An infamous meme once says, ‘home is where your wifi connects automatically.’ True enough, we can search through the internet, watch movies, experiment on new recipes, and maybe even do a little yoga in the comfort of our own place.
But that is not the case with dogs. At home, their only form of entertainment is food and their favorite toys. Most of them don’t appreciate binge-watching Netflix or laying all day in bed.
Dogs immediately get excited at the sight of a leash, or when you say the magic W-word. There is the cool grass, new faces, other dogs to mingle with. The outside is like a big new world for them, even if it’s just four blocks away from home.
Walking is one of the best exercises for dogs
Aside from the priceless happiness and excitement walking brings to our furbabies, it is also a very good form of physical and mental exercise.
Walking helps our dog’s little body build more muscle and keep their joints lubricated. Walking as a dog’s form of daily exercise, believe it or not, stimulates good digestion in their gut.
A little sunshine is what they exactly need to absorb the vitamins and minerals they get from the food they eat.
Being outdoors is also a good mental exercise for them because they socialize with other dogs and other people.
Dogs who are often exposed to people will less likely be violent towards them.
Walking tires a dog out
If your dogs are stuck at home, boredom will get to them, and they will use all of their energy on every furniture they can chew on.
Whatever the size your dog has, may he or she be a puppy or an adult, they have the potential to be destructive if they don’t get enough physical activity every day.
Walking regularly means a bonding opportunity
And most of all, walking our dogs allows us to bond with them. May it be a hike or just a stroll around our neighborhood, the time you spent with your dogs walking outside is a moment of connection between you two, and it is one way of saying that you really love your dog in a way that he will understand.
Tip: Know the daily exercise requirement by checking out How Much Exercise Does a Dog Need Every Day?
Safest places to walk your dog
Not all places are safe for our dogs. It is best that before we let our dog walk that route, we have to make sure that the path is free of shattered glasses, poisonous plants nearby or other potential choking hazard stuff scattered everywhere, such as plastics or metal scraps.
Remember that our dogs tend to lick on everything that they could put their tongues on, so it is necessary to keep them in a safe lane.
A family-friendly neighborhood or a small park close to your house would be the best place to do your daily walk with your dog.
You might also assume that it is best to hang out in a dog park so your dogs can play with other dogs.
However, doing so is not advisable at all, especially if you have already trained your dogs with proper conduct outside your house.
Just like a normal kid, dogs tend to acquire their behavior with other dogs that they interact with. If they mingle with other overly excited dogs, well, guess what? That’s exactly what they will be when you get home, and that’s not even the biggest problem yet.
Other dogs in a dog park might have a tick, flea, or they may be carriers of parvovirus or distemper, which could easily be transferred to your dog.
Although it is nice to have your pet play with other dogs, you should still be careful about which dogs they will spend time with.
When To Stay Indoors
Aside from pressing matters with your job or an emergency at home which compelled you to keep your dogs indoors, it is very important that you know when it’s best to stay indoors than to risk your dog’s safety in exchange for a 30-minute walk. It is better if you keep your dog inside during these times:
Incomplete Vaccine and no tick and flea protection
Puppies and dogs with incomplete vaccination are very prone to parvovirus, distemper, leptospirosis, and rabies if they haven’t had their complete vaccine.
It can only take one sniff or one lick for them to acquire these viruses, so it is better to keep him or her inside your house to keep them safe.
Tick and flea protection is also very important before exposing your dog to the outside world. These may come in various products such as chewable capsule, spot-on treatment, soap, and powder. It is best to ask your vet on what tick and flea protection is best for your dogs.
There are other dogs in the neighborhood who got sick
There were instances when vaccinated dogs were still able to acquire viruses from the outside because they could come in contact with a sick dog who was then asymptomatic.
Dogs also vomit and relieve themselves outside, and these can be a form of transmission of the virus to your dog if they were able to get in contact with them.
Rabid dogs and cats are roaming around your place
Even if your dog is vaccinated, many rabid dogs or cats can not only transmit the rabies virus, but they can also be hostile to your pet.
Rabid dogs will also be harmful to pet owners like you, so it is better if both of you will stay home until animal control comes over to fix this problem.
Mosquito Fogging and other pesticides sprayed recently
Always be aware if a park or a hiking trail has been recently sprayed with pesticides or the local government had just conducted mosquito fogging to ensure that your dog will not get in contact with those chemicals.
These substances might not kill your dog on the spot, but through the accumulation of such chemicals in their body, their immune system might fail.
Your dog’s footpad may be thick and rubbery, but it definitely will not protect them when they get in contact with hot asphalt.
Make sure to walk your dogs early in the morning and late in the afternoon to ensure that the road is not too hot for their cute little paws.
What are the effects of not walking your dog?
Some pet parents are too paranoid about taking their dogs out for a walk, especially these days where the coronavirus can also be transmitted to your pets.
This is understandable and maybe even the wisest decision to make, especially if there have been reported cases of people around your neighborhood who tested positive to the virus.
However, please be mindful that it is your responsibility as a pet parent to give them sufficient exercise indoors because pets who always indoors tend to be more destructive inside the house and hostile to humans.
It is not good for their mental health and definitely not good for physical health as well. If they don’t move around, their muscles will deteriorate, which might cause your dogs’ stunted growth or obesity.
Tip: Here are 10 Easy Ways To Exercise Your Dog that you and your pet can do aside from walking.
Dog walking alternatives: Types of play to keep your dog busy at home
If you decide to stay at home, there are still many other forms of exercise that will entertain your dogs and keep them busy.
Examples of indoor dog activities are:
- Play tug of war with your dog
- Play fetch
- Fill their food dispensing toys with their favorite treats
- Teach your dog new tricks
- Play hide and seek with them
- Train your dog with a clicker or a bell
- Schedule a doggie play date with one of your friend’s pet
You can also use this time to nip their fingernails, brush their teeth, and give them a total grooming session inside your home.
Dogs love to stick to their schedule. They have their own routine, which you, as their fur parents, should know. For example, some dogs would go potty the first thing in the morning, eat their food in the middle of the day, and play the entire afternoon.
You should know where the walking activity should fit within their daily tasks and find another activity if you can’t take them out not to get confused.
It is best to schedule the days when you will take them out for a walk and when both of you will stay home and still have fun.
Tip: Checkout Brain-Boosting Exercises To Stimulate Your Dog’s Mental Performance for more effective dog walking alternatives.
Not Walking Your Dogs Does Not Mean Bad Furparenthood
You might feel bad that you don’t get to walk your dog every day or stuck with his schedule, but that is completely fine!
There’s nothing to feel bad about not taking your dogs out because, let’s be real, life happens.
When the world is going crazy, and your life might seem so chaotic that you need to stay home, do it. Your dog would still follow you around and love you as he or she had since day 1.