(No, we’re not “heeling” but Mama says she can’t resist this cute rear view.)
Corgis need exercise. We were developed to be working dogs and, while we look awesome holding down the couch or stretched out on the floor, we are in our element when we are moving! The best way to get us moving is to take us for a nice, long walk.
Walking your dog should be a pleasant experience for you both, but walks can become stressful if human or dog doesn’t understand some basic facts. Let’s look at some of these, shall we?
First, let’s talk about equipment. I would love nothing more than to race free, but my parents are convinced that I’d come to some harm if I did so. That’s why they say a collar and leash are essential for a good walk. The collar should be well-fitting and in good condition—a collar is of no use if it slips off your dog or is frayed to the point a good lunge will snap it. Choke collars are meant for training and are not a good choice for a nice walk. Obviously, I also think collars should be attractive—what self-respecting corgi wants to wear an ugly collar? Oh, and my dad says it is a good idea that the collar be reflective if you are going to walk after dark.
The leash should be comfortable for the human’s hand. The leash should be long enough to enable movement but short enough so the human maintains control of the dog. Those extendable, retractable type leashes are pretty cool if you are walking in a clear, safe area, but they aren’t good for high-traffic areas, areas with lots of brush, or at any other time when maximum human control is needed. Before you select a leash, you should check your local city ordinances—some places actually mandate the length and type of leash you can use on your walks.
If you are planning on a really long walk or if the weather is really hot, you should consider bringing along a bottle of water and perhaps a collapsible water dish. A handful of treats could come in handy if you need to do any training along the way or in case you need to entice your dog out of an inadvisable situation. A supply of poopy bags is always needed—hey, sometimes nature calls while we’re on the road and no corgi wants to be a bad citizen by leaving any poop behind. Some dog experts believe it can be useful for a dog to wear a backpack and carry these supplies himself…give the dog a job, they say. I’ve never tried it myself, but I bet I could be the best hauler you ever met!
Next, let’s consider where the walk takes place. We dogs aren’t all that choosy. A quick turn around the neighborhood is great; a leisurely stroll in the park is fantastic—any place we can walk, sniff, and enjoy the company of our human is a fine place for us. We ask that you make sure our walk environment is safe—avoid areas where there is excessive car traffic, dogs off-leash, or any hazardous substances within reach of your corgi. And don’t forget this: You have on shoes; we don’t. Walking on hot pavement, over sharp rocks, or through stickers can hurt our delicate foot pads!
Finally, let’s talk about the experience itself. I personally can’t recommend it, but the humans believe it is essential that dogs be made to “heel” during walks. They say if we dogs walk out ahead, it gets us thinking we are in control of the walk—I can’t see the problem with this way of thinking but it seems to intimidate the humans.
The pace of the walk should be brisk, to give us the level of exercise we need. But we dogs appreciate it if you remember to stop and sniff a little along the way. When deciding on the length of the walk, you must consider your dogs’ age, health, and fitness level as well as the external conditions, like the weather. In our family we have some disagreement: Lucy the beagle and I both are short-legged girls in pretty decent condition, but we simply cannot walk at the pace and distance preferred by our big brother Claude, the cranky husky-malamute mix. Our parents have to take this into account when planning our walks.
Oh, yes, I’d be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to talk about the treadmill. Some dogs, especially those who live in an environment that doesn’t lend itself well to nice outside walks, have taken the gym-approach by learning to walk on a treadmill. This is a fine alternative to give exercise, but don’t forget to add in some sensory stimulation to make up for the outdoor sights, sounds and sniffs that are lacking.
Walks can be one of the best bonding experiences for corgis and their people. With a little planning and effort, dogs and humans alike benefit from the walk experience. I highly recommend you get out with your corgi and take a walk today!
(I don’t always go for walks, but when I do, it wears me out!)