Happy new year, folks!
We spent the holiday here and there and on various risky adventures (see: driving through unfamiliar mountain in the middle of a nor’easter. Whoops. Spoiler: we survived.). We stayed at a few different inns, which inspired us to come home and try to make our house more into the home we want it to be. We talked about resolutions.
And that is where this post comes in. I will not regale you with the details of our holiday and birthday adventures. No – instead, I have a confession. My confession is: I do not walk my dogs.
It’s a little crazy, right? When we first got Daphne, I walked her sometimes, but we lived two houses away from a path along the pond that was deserted until 7am every morning, and right next to it was a baseball field that was used daily as an informal dog park. I usually just let her run out the door and down to the field. Occasionally we would walk to Turtle’s house, about a mile away, and when I first got Daph, we would walk to her dog training classes, about three miles away. After we moved away from that path and baseball field, Daphne and I would sometimes walk to another destination where she could run off-leash. I just never found her to be tired after walks, even long ones, and it seemed more productive to find somewhere that she could really run.
Then she started to become leash reactive, barking and lunging at dogs, cars, and people that passed. Frankly, it became unsafe to walk her. One time, she pushed her way out the door and hit a car. That’s right, she attacked a moving car. She was fine, the people were very apologetic, and I realized how dangerous it could be to let her out.
In the meantime, we got a car. Why walk the dog at all when you can just pack ‘er up and drive her to the woods/dog park/beach? Yes, lots of driving, but also more running and more tired dogs.
When I went to Florida to visit my dad and we got him a dog, he gave me a pedometer. He also told me that he walks upwards of 40,000 steps a day. That’s right around 20 miles each day based on his stride. I walked with him for some of that while I was there, logging 15k+ steps/day. Just in case you’re wondering, it is recommended that a healthy adult walk 10,000 steps a day, or around 3 miles. No problem, right?
Well, I got home from Florida and have been tracking my steps since, and I have seen a steady decline. A few days, I came in at only around 2,000 steps. This is what my dad might refer to as a “sloth” day. We might also consider that perhaps the sloth was actually sleeping on this particular day.
So, here is my resolution: not to walk my dogs more, but to increase my steps. Today is day 3, and Daphne and I have been on two leash-walks. We have not gone far. I am not sure whether I have mentioned that we started Daph on Prozac a couple of months ago, and we have seen a huge improvement in her reactive behaviors; now we are working on teaching replacement behaviors with the goal of eventually weaning her off the meds. She is currently nailing loose-leash walking in a parking lot near our house. Granted, she was a little bit reactive when a dog came running out of its house and nearly attacked her last night… but I would have been, too.
I am excited about this. I think walking on a loose leash is not only a good skill to have, it can be a life saver. If Daphne can learn to do this safely, it will open up a world of possibilities: we could go to the park; we could go into the city; we could go on long walks without my being worried that she’ll yank the leash out of my hand and try to show a truck what’s what. Oh the places we will go! So here’s to 2013, to walking, and to giving my dog a better life.
What, if anything, are you hoping to do differently this year? Do you walk your dog?