*I wrote this article as a guest columnist for Friends of Alameda Animal Shelter, where I volunteer as a dog training intern. Check it out in the Alameda Journal next Friday, April 25!
For a shelter dog, being adopted is like a taking a giant sigh of relief.
As wonderful as shelter staff is, as comfortable as the animals are made, as dedicated and loving as the volunteers are, a shelter is still a shelter. When dogs finally find their forever home, they often need a refresher course on how to be dog. Inviting a dog walker into your new family member’s routine is an ideal solution to help reintroduce them into the world.
In shelters, there is a palpable tension in the air that causes the majority of dogs a lot of stress and anxiety. Often times they are so scared, amped up or frustrated, they have a hard time enjoying even a simple walk, let alone learning basic manners to impress their potential adopters.
Newly adopted dogs can find everyday life a bit overwhelming and scary. There is countless novel stimulus to take in, such as new sights, smells, people and other animals. In severe cases, if not introduced to these things in a slow, supportive and positive way, dogs could learn to make negative, fear-based associations.
When new dogs join a walking group, they are exposed to new things, places, people and dogs in a safe and comfortable environment. They learn impulse control, hone their recalls, sits and stays, learn how to socialize with their canine cohorts and build tons of positive associations and experiences.
Hiring a dog walker is not only beneficial to your dog. It allows pet owners to go to work, on vacation, and live their lives guilt-free, because they know their four-legged friends are being cared for and given the exercise necessary to keep them happy, healthy, and mentally stimulated
Daily walks and playtime give dogs the chance to exercise and keep their minds sharp. Instead of possibly being destructive when left home to their own devices, regular outings give the dogs something to do that will leave them tuckered out and ready for snuggles with their people at the end of the day.