Chatting with a customer recently we were discussing the anxiety her dog feels on walks. He is a recently rescued dog who was sadly returned a couple of times prior to his owners adopting him. He has a few quirks and is unsure of the world inside the home and outside the home. At the moment he pulls when anxious and generally unsure of things going on around him. This pulling and frenzied behaviour that he displays only causes him further stress.
His owners mentioned he can walk for hours but come home and not settle, in fact, it can seem to wind him up further. This wasn’t a surprise for me to hear, this can often occur in dogs who are chronically stressed. The pulling and lunging on lead and getting distressed by sudden noises is likely releasing adrenaline and cortisol into his system, this can take several days to flush from the system depending on the stress levels of the dog. As I continued to explain why these walks where he is over aroused might actually be counterproductive and that for some dogs walking everyday simply isn’t for them if its likely to be stressful, the dogs’ owner responded with a great wisdom. She said it’s as though we as people have a pre-written rulebook of what every dog wants and needs, but that actually that might not be true for every dog.
Every dog is an individual and all have different needs, sometimes it can be hard for us to move away from those ideas, but it’s important to remember that the “rules” we have in mind when we think about life with a dog, might not be the book of the dog in front of us. They might actually have one that states they would rather be at home and play games than go out and socialise with other dogs. They might actually prefer to go for a walk somewhere quiet once a day rather than have to deal with the hustle and bustle of the city. Or they might prefer a city walk rather than be harassed by offlead dogs constantly.
Looking at what your dog actually wants and needs rather than sticking to the way things have always been done will certainly fulfil your dog more.