Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Off Leash Playtime, It's a Must!!!

How important is playtime? Aren't leash walks enough? Isn't letting my puppy or dog run around the house good enough? These are questions I'm asked on a regular basis by clients. My students know that I am a BIG advocate of off leash playtime. I supervise playtime at the end of group classes, encourage students to connect outside of class for playtime and provide my own dogs with an abundance of off leash fun. While I do walk my dogs on leash daily, it does not compare to a good off leash romp. I think about my own exercise routine and how much I need it to stay healthy and happy. When I head out for a long walk I am relaxed, free to move about as I please, walk or run, you get the picture. If on the other hand I'm walking with someone whose holding my hand, controling my pace,dictating which direction I head, I would not get the same benefits or enjoyment out of my workout. I think the same can be said for our dogs. When our dog is on leash they are not free to move about as they please, they can't explore, jump, roll, sniff, etc. A young active puppy or dog can out run most humans, so walking on leash rarely helps them expend their boundless energy. A senior dog may not have the stamina to keep up with his power walking human, so walks can be stressful if not painful. Allowing your puppy or dog to play off leash gives them the freedom to play at their own pace.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting that we turn our dogs free to run anywhere they please. We need to find safe fenced areas to let our dogs play. This can be a challenge when most people don't have fenced yards. If you don't have a fenced yard, find a friend or neighbor that does and become their best friend *grin*. Find a well run socialization playgroup in your area and sign your dog up. There are many good doggie day cares that provide supervised off leash playtime and exercise. You need to find the right option for your dog.

I encourage my students to connect with other pet parents for playdates.   I am always thrilled to hear that people are willing to take time out of their busy shedules to give their dogs much needed off leash exercise. I also hear about all the great friendships that develop, an added perk for the humans :)

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