Dog run, what is it?
Dog runs are becoming more and more popular in urban agglomerations. We can find them in every significant housing estate. Often, catwalks are also created in larger city parks. The dog run is a fenced area where dog owners can free their dogs and interact with other pets. The runs become a meeting place for many dog keepers because they offer what is often inaccessible to dogs, i.e., freedom, and they allegedly give the keepers moments of respite. And although conceptually, a dog run sounds excellent in its simplicity, unfortunately, dogs often cannot find themselves on the run because it is a place that hinders natural communication between pets. Recently, more and more has been said about the harmfulness of runs for dogs and their inept use. It is worth taking a look at.
Is a dog run a good idea for a walk?
Walking is one of the basic needs of a dog. They provide the dog with the opportunity to explore the environment, making them feel safer and calmer. During the walk, the dog sniffs freely, which gives the animal a lot of satisfaction; it is a source of joy and information about the world around the dog. Each dog sniffs at its own pace and reacts differently to different odors. The dog may treat a specific smell as a common source of information. Still, it can also disturb the dog or make it exceptionally interesting and raise its emotional level. Collecting scent information is often enough for our dog to make a conscious decision that he does not want to have direct contact with another pet. And here, the problem very often arises when it comes to staying in dog runs: dogs have minimal decision-making power when staying in a closed area, which affects the dynamics of their behavior and interactions. There are more emotions and more decisive behavior in our pets, contributing to the emergence of many conflicts.
What happens to a dog in the paddock?
- Paradoxically, although created for dogs and their guardians, the runs are where our pupils often feel terrible.
The paddock is a closed area that significantly limits distance manipulation, which dogs often use in contact with other quadrupeds. Increasing or decreasing the distance and how they do it substantially affects your relationship with other dogs. Increasing the distance can ease the conflict, but the tension between dogs can escalate quickly if this is not possible. Often the runs are too small for many dogs to move freely on them and communicate with other dogs in a controlled manner.
- There is often confusion on the catwalk: many dogs are running, emotions, agitation, and strong reactions. Often in a different setting, most dogs would choose to increase their distance, move away to ease the situation. There is no such possibility in a secure paddock, which increases the stress level in dogs and may cause conflict situations. Instead of moving away, dogs are often forced to defend their borders resolutely, show their teeth to chase away an intruder who comes too close and violates our dog’s safety zone. Dogs, by nature, go out of their way to avoid conflicts with other pets. If they react differently, it is usually associated with a sense of threat and the need to defend themselves.
- Free exploration is practically impossible on the paddock – the terrain is limited, the smells are very intense, often causing anxiety in the dog. Many dogs even have trouble walking onto an empty enclosure because of the number of odors left in one place by unfamiliar dogs.
- Dog handlers on the paddock usually talk to other dog breeders or passively watch wild animals play. They often become a resource their dog begins to defend against other dogs as a last resort for rescue. Unfortunately, dog handlers perceive such behavior resulting from desperation and stress as aggressive and condemned.
Why is it better to avoid catwalks?
Behaviorists and dog trainers advise against visiting dog runs. Visits to the runs destroy the dog’s sense of security, as they negatively affect his sense of agency and decision-making.
- Dogs feel trapped and lonely on the paddock, and their needs remain unmet. About other dogs, the most important thing is their quality, not quantity, and unfortunately, dog runs are a place where we have no control over who and what dog comes and what happens there.
- Visiting a dog’s paddock regularly contributes to stress levels in your dog and can have long-term adverse effects on your dog’s behavior. The dog may become nervous, over-agitated, have trouble sleeping, and calm down in the home. He usually starts to attract all dogs during walks, and he tries to communicate with them unskilfully. The dog can become more conflicting and impatient because he is stressed and lost in social situations.
- The dog begins to break away from other dogs, barking and grinning and trying to distance them because contact with other pets is only associated with stress and discomfort.
- The dog learns that the handler has no support and loses interest in him, and his basic need, i.e., the need to feel safe, will be crushed.
How to use the catwalks?
- If you have decided to go with your dog to the run, do so at an hour when there are very few dogs, and best. Suppose they are dogs that your pet knows and likes.
- Dog runs this is not a good place to socialize your dog. In socialization, it is essential for the dog to feel comfortable in new and unfamiliar situations. Unfortunately, it is often impossible with many strange dogs on the runway.
- Dog pens are brutal places, especially for anxiety dogs. Fear will most likely paralyze such a dog, and his contact with other dogs will be challenging.
- If, however, you have decided to visit a dog run, try to observe what is happening on it carefully. See if any dog is harassing your pet and if such a situation occurs, react and try to help your dog.
- Move around the paddock to signal your dog that he may also be getting away from dogs that he may not like.
- Do not bring toys or food to the runway. Even if your dog is ready to share them with other dogs, other quadrupeds may have a completely different approach to resources.
- If, when approaching the dog run, you notice that your pet is over-stimulating, barking, jerking, or trying to stop and withdraw, letting you know that he does not want to go in there, back off. Listen to what your dog is trying to communicate to you, and remember that he is right when dealing with other dogs.
- Visit the paddocks at unpopular times when you will be there alone with your dog, or possibly only in the company of pets that your dog knows and likes.
What instead of a runway?
Taking the dog to the run is a convenient option for the guardian, but it can be problematic for the dog itself. It is worth offering the dog a calmer walk on a longer leash or line, during which the pet will have the opportunity to explore the surroundings at its own pace, make more informed decisions about possible contacts with other dogs or the guardian. A more gentle walk, but with the possibility of sniffing and calmly analyzing stimuli from the environment, will give the dog more satisfaction and joy than many wild frolics with other pets. By the way, it is worth remembering that the olfactory work pleasantly torments the dog and will positively influence his calmness and behavior at home.
Instead of visiting the paddock, you can offer your short dog exercises of commands or tricks that will surely please every four-legged friend and build a relationship with the handler. The training session does not have to last more than a few minutes, and it will tire the puppy anyway because it will make him think and focus his attention on the guardian. By the way, which is extremely important, if we appropriately interact with our dog, we will not raise his emotional level and help him calm down after exercise.
Town dog runs are usually small and overcrowded. They are not a pro-canine solution – it is even impossible to take care of your dog’s comfort when taking a dog on the run. Due to the unusual dynamics of canine relationships, complicated aspects of dog communication, and considering the dog’s basic needs, it is better to abandon visits to local enclosures.