My local shelter accepts volunteers to walk the dogs. However they limit each walk to a maximum of 20 minutes.

I'm a bit puzzled by this limitation. Considering that shelter dogs generally live in a very stressful environment I think that this policy is quite bad for the dog: the dog experiences even more stress when getting ready for a walk as he knows it's going to be short. Even with no prior experience, imagine this: the dog is already under stress. He meets new people. He goes for a walk. After 10 minutes he has to turn back and go back to the shelter.

People walking a dog in view of adopting him will have no chance to see the dog in a "normal" state of excitement or stress.

Their argument is that this gives more chances to the dogs to be adopted: the dog can't be adopted if he's not in the shelter.

Are there studies about shelter dog adoption considering this problem? Or other sources suggesting that this could be beneficial/detrimental to the dog?

  • Does your shelter allow dog walking during non-business hours? If so does the same rule apply? My shelter allows trained volunteers to walk dogs starting at 7 am, but not open to the public until 10 am. Commented May 12, 2014 at 15:39
  • It doesn't seem so. Maybe the "core team" of the shelter could do so but otherwise it's from 2pm to 5:30pm.
    – Cedric H.
    Commented May 12, 2014 at 15:43
  • 4
    The shelter in the town where I live has vests for their dogs that say it's up for adoption, or just the shelter's name. That way when they have the dogs out for a walk or at a fundraiser, people know the dog is up for adoption. It seems to work out pretty well for them, and maybe trying something like that would help ease their worries about the dogs not getting publicity while they're out for a walk.
    – Spidercat
    Commented May 12, 2014 at 20:59
  • @MattS. That sounds like a very good idea indeed!
    – Cedric H.
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 16:27

1 Answer 1


It sounds more like shorter walks mean more dogs get a walk, which helps with stress and pent-up energy and helps them be adopted.

As far as what the dog's perspective might be: a dog doesn't have the same concept of time that we do and it won't consider the walk being short or long; it's just a walk, an opportunity to smell new things and explore. Yes, it might be shorter than it would like, but it doesn't go into the walk worried about it being too short. Dogs live too much in the moment to think like that.

A longer walk will get rid of more energy which means a calmer dog, but you're never going to see a dog in a normal state when it's at a shelter. Some act more like themselves but they're still not going to be like what they would be at home because it is such an unsure environment.

I'm someone who has worked with a dog rescue, fostered and rehabbed dogs so they have a successful second-chance, and has adopted several rescues myself.

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