Dog Walking When a Pup Has PTSD
Friday, September 11, 2015
WAs a dog owner, you have probably been told time and time again that it is important to take your pup for a walk on a daily basis. However, have you ever questioned why this is important? What exactly does your dog really get from a regular walking anyway?
Any professional dog walker will immediately tell you that there are a plethora of reasons to take your dog out at least once a day. Some arguments include:
  • Exercise
  • To use the bathroom
  • Training
  • Teach leash manners
  • Learn socialization with other dogs, people, and animals
  • Get an enjoyment of being in a new environment
  • Spend time with their human
Then there is the rare occasion where daily dog walks are not completely beneficial to certain dogs. This is when it is important to think of ways to incorporate the above without aggravating or hurting your dog. 
For instance, dogs that have been abused or neglected may get along just fine in their new found homes, but when confronted with the outside world, they can become anxious and might even shut down. Take Uba, one of the dogs rescued from the Michael Vick dog fighting rings, for example. In a blog post on Jessica Dolce's blog Notes from a Dog Walker, his owner Letti de Little from BAD RAP discussed how parts of the city she lived in, such as groups of pedestrians, city sounds, and strange dogs, would cause Uba to completely "pancake," or shut down in fear. He was diagnosed as having the same symptoms as someone suffering from PTSD.
After moving to a different urban area, Little and and another BAD RAP member decided it was best to forgo taking Uba on daily walks. He was only let out in Little's backyard to run and play except on the weekend when they would go for walks in areas where there was nature for Uba to enjoy and limited people with their "friendly dogs" to bother him. This allowed Uba to once again enjoy his walks as he was no longer being forced into his worst fears every day. 
Even for PTSD dogs, there are still ways to make sure they get their daily exercise. Little, as an example, set up a dog treadmill for Uba. She also uses a flirt pole, an inexpensive pole and rope, to help Uba with impulse control. There are also socialization groups set up specifically for neglected and abused dogs to help stimulate their brain and help them overcome their fears.
While dog walking is an excellent way to incorporate exercise, socialization, stimulation, and more in a dog, remember that each dog, like each person, is an individual. If walking in your neighborhood is not ideal for your dog, think of other ways you can help them get these things in their daily life. Incorporate new games and learning toys in their life, and see if there are any classes in your area that could help you decrease your dog's fears about the world around them. 
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Pets-ercise provides individual dog walking and exercising plans to the Norfolk, VA area. Tara, a certified professional pet sitter, is a life long pet lover and has personal experience and compassion for both senior citizen and special needs pets. Contact her today if your hectic work schedule or upcoming vacation will cause your pet to be stuck indoors or alone for long periods of time.