The outside world can be a confusing, arousing and stressful environment for our dogs.
It’s important to keep in mind that what appears to be a simple walk to us, can be a completely different experience to our dogs, especially if they haven’t been environmentally acclimated. They have to contend with us communicating in a foreign language, passing strangers, other dogs, traffic, the elements, different scents and noises.
We often assume that dogs love going for walks, although quite often the physiological signs (panting, lip licking, pulling, yawning, smiling etc) are of stress, not of happiness. Particularly in genetically nervous dogs.
On top of this, you also need to remember that dogs are associative learners and will pair stimuli with responses. If your dog has had any experiences with particular stimuli, whether that be positive or negative, the presence of those stimuli will illicit an emotional response and a subsequent behaviour.
All of these things together can lead to your dog feeling an overwhelming level of stress while out on walks. If your dog is experiencing regular doses of Cortisol (stress hormone) this can begin to have a lasting negative effect on your dogs behaviour.
This is where rest days come into play.
What do I mean by a rest day? NO WALKS or INTERACTIONS with the OUTSIDE WORLD – AT ALL.
Doing this provides your dog with an opportunity to fully relax and prevent another unnecessary spike in their adrenaline and cortisol levels. Depending on the dog, we’d even recommend entire rest weeks. Allow them to have a break from the unpredictable and uncontrollable world we’ve put them in and spend the time doing scent games, training, sleeping, eating and playing for fun instead.
They’ll thank you for it, trust us!