My nephew Jon with Brody
I love my daughters and my fella, but they usually complain when I try to get them to take a walk with me. There's one member of my household, however, that never complains when I put on my walking shoes and ipod and set out for the neighborhood park: my Australian Shepherd dog, Brody. In fact, he does a little happy dance when I get out the leash. He doesn't care if it is raining or 90 degrees (32 C).
We walk every morning, rain or shine. Usually we walk for about 30 minutes. Sometimes we go out again in the evening. On Sundays, I take him to my mom's for a playdate with her dog, Tucker, and a walk at her place.
His funnest activity is going to the dog park, but it is several miles from our house and I have a hard time justifying the gas to drive over there just to take a walk.
I have had five dogs in my adult life. Each one was very different from the others. My first dog was a pomeranian mix named Bear. My second was a cocker spaniel mix named Cubby. My third was a viszla mix named Perrita. Brody was fourth and the fifth was an old Australian Shepherd named Sydney that one of my former tenants left behind when they moved. I moved to Mexico in 2000 for six months with every earlthly possession I owned packed in my 1996 Hyundai Accent including two dogs (Cubby & Perrita) and a cat. This was P.K. (pre-kids).
Years ago, I worked in an animal shelter and saw all of the unwanted dogs and cats. It was really heart-breaking. One of the things that commonly resulted in pet dogs being relinquished by their owners was behavior problems. I came to see how important it is for dogs to receive daily exercise. Behavior issues, you see, are often caused by a lack of exercise and boredom, both of which are treated by a short daily walk. Most dogs don't need a ton of exercise. 10 minutes in the morning and evening is sufficent for all but the most active breeds. Many people assume that their pets will exercise themselves in their fenced yard, but few actually do. Brody, for example, spends his outside time sitting at the sliding glass door and waiting to be let back inside. Very small dogs can get sufficent exercise indoors, but nothing can replace the mental stimulation they get from sniffing the grass and barking at the other dogs walking in the park.
Many people don't walk their dogs because they pull too much on the leash. If this is your issue, I would suggest purchasing a head collar. Gentle Leader and Halti are a couple of name brands. Head collars work in much the same way as a bridle works on a horse. Imagine attaching a body harness to a horse or a collar around the neck and trying to control the body weight of the animal to get it to go where you want. But a simple bridle on the head allows you to lead the horse without issue. A head collar allows you to control the dog as easily. If your dog pulls on a leash, this type of collar will instantly eliminate the problem. The only thing to be aware of is that some dogs are bothered by the feeling of the head collar on their face. It is important to have yummy treats on hand when you first apply the collar and as you work with the dog the first few times. If they start fussing with the collar, distract them with a treat.
There are a few commands that I insist my dogs know. I do take Brody off leash at the park when there are no other people and dogs around, so he must come every time he's called. Once a few years ago we were walking in the park and Brody was on his leash. There were two little black poodles that live next door to us and torment Brody at every opportunity. These dogs were off leash and they charged him and then began to run off. Somehow Brody managed to slip his collar off and went chasing off after the dogs. I shouted, "Brody! No! Come!" and he lerched to a stop and returned to me, looking all innocent. I also expect my dogs to sit and lie down upon command. Brody gives high fives and jumps in and out of the bath tub and car when I tell him to. Among his other amazing features is that he has never gone to the bathroom in the house except one time when he was a puppy when he peed on the hard wood floor and he never, ever barks unless a neighbor cat is on the fence. He is good with the chickens, the cats and my daughters' rats. For our family, he is the perfect dog.