I’ve never heard of the term “decompression walk” until I stumbled upon a Facebook post talking about it. I thought to myself, “What’s a decompression walk?” I thought it was for dogs who need physical therapy or a special technique to help dogs with physical issues.
A decompression walk simply means letting your dog sniff and explore with freedom of movement (like having a long leash). For many people, walking a dog can be a chore. Most of the time, we leash our dog, go outside, and walk around until the dog does their business. But dogs are natural scavengers and hunters which means sniffing and exploring are innate behaviors.
When we first got Pepper, we didn’t just ‘walk’ her. We explored together while she learned about the world, and usually she would eventually do her business. After our ‘walks’, Pepper was relaxed and satisfied. In fact, a walk without the chance to sniff and explore can cause more stress and increase a dog’s level of arousal.
Decompression walks allow dogs to be dogs and engage in natural behaviors. But not all decompression walks are the same for each dog. Try different environments, if you can, like a trail, the beach, a soccer field, a golf course, or even a cemetary! Decompression walks can be a huge stress reliever and can improve behavioral health.