Very often when families get a dog of a small breed, they neglect sufficient walking in the neighborhood or even taking the dog to new places. I see many dogs trained primarily to potty pads without the ability to go out for a walk.

There is nothing wrong with having a small dog indoor trained if you physically can’t get out for exercise or the weather is not good, or even if the dog has medical concerns. But other than those reasons, dogs really need to get out.

Learning about the world makes dogs less anxious. If they don’t get to explore the world, the anxiety issues can be horrendous. Your wonderful home and companionship is just not enough for a dog.

From their perspective, it can be viewed as a beautiful prison with limited distractions and stimulation. What can happen? Anxiety might take on several forms: chewing themselves, food fussiness, destruction of household items, barking, fixating on certain things, pacing and more.

Dogs are social animals and need to see other places, dogs and people. Physically, they need to walk for bone and muscle development. Learning about the planet is equally important to stimulate their brain.

Fear is very common in dogs when they are not familiar with people, places or things. Working through these makes a more confident and happier dog. 

When you are able to get a small dog out for a walk, especially in the neighborhood, you need to teach her how to walk properly on a leash. If she has been inside without a leash, this will take some time.

Initially, dogs might not want to walk at all. If they do, they might not want to leave their own familiar property if that is all they have known. Luring them with a treat and a happy attitude might help.

Although awkward, it might be helpful to take a long plastic spoon with a little peanut butter or honey on the tip and hold out ahead of them, allowing them to lick a little only after they have taken some steps. I also recommend taking along a toy that your dog likes and toss it out ahead of him.

If your pup does have exposure to other dogs, ask that owner if their dog can join you on the walk. Walking with a confident dog can be a big help.

COVID-19 has hindered our own personal social lives, which has then filtered down to our dogs. We don’t have people over and we don’t go places. It has made us anxious as well.

Use your dog as an excuse to get out more, whether on a walk or for a ride. Take your pup for a walk in places that accept pets, such as pet stores, home improvement stores and shopping areas. Sit outside at pet friendly restaurants.

Do all this now to prevent your dog from having unnecessary anxieties.

Abby Bird is owner of Alphadog Training Academy.