Saturday, May 14, 2011

Dogs Talk While They Walk

Spring is here, the weather is warm and people are once again out and about with their dogs.  It is a wonderful thing to see people caring for their dogs.  Most people don’t understand what they are doing when they walk their dogs.  Sure you are taking the dog out to go to the bathroom and to get exercise, which is great, but that is not all that is going on.  Have you ever sat in an area where a lot of people will walk their dogs?  I am lucky, all I have to do is go sit on the porch and people walk their dogs right by my house.  If you watch the interaction you will see much more than a potty call and some exercise going on.  Some people are being pulled along by their dog, some are walking with friends without a clue as to what their dogs are doing, and some are walking in a very symbiotic way with their dogs.  Those that are walking with their dogs, as opposed to just walking their dog,  are so much more at ease and their dogs are comfortable, not pulling or darting off a the slightest movement.  It is really a remarkable thing to watch if you know what to look for.  The communication is all there as well.  The dog is part of a pack and at ease instead of nervous and jittery with no direction.
What most people don’t seem to understand is that a walk is a very social activity for a dog.  They meet other dogs, smell other dogs markings, and they see the outside world much differently while on a walk then they do if they are in the yard.  Walking creates an environment where you and your dog can bond.  Whether or not you know it, when walk your dog, you are communicating a lot of very important things.  You are discussing authority, caring, assertiveness, rules, and much more.  In your dog’s eyes, a whole other world is opened to them while on a walk, and a lot of communicating is going on without one sound being uttered.
A walk is a great time to take advantage of your dog’s natural instincts, and use them to your benefit.  It may not seem like your dog is paying attention to you while on a walk, but I can assure you nothing is further from the truth.  Just because your dog seems to be sniffing at everything and distracted by the slightest movement of a squirrel or a leaf, doesn’t mean the dog is not paying attention to you.  Your dog is always paying attention to you and your body language.  Once you understand that, you will find communicating with your dog not only simple, but a very rewarding experience.  If your dog is pulling, just stop; don’t say anything, just stop.  Wait for your dog to understand that you have stopped and they need to stop.  Calm your dog down standing in front of him; don’t let your dog walk until they are calm.  Once calm you can begin to walk again, and as soon as your dog pulls, do the same thing.  You will find yourself stopping every three feet, and it will be difficult to calm your dog down at first.  After a while you will see that your dog will understand that you are in charge.  This is one simple way to communicate with your dog without having to say anything.  Just stay calm, and don’t speak to your dog, let your actions do the talking for you.
Once you get the hang of it you will see that walking your dog is more like having a chat with your dog.  How the silent chat will go is all up to you.  If you are calm and you put yourself in the leadership role on the walk, you will see that it will translate to all other aspects of your life with your dog.  You may even notice your dog calming down and doing what you want, without you ever having to say a word.   That is a great feeling.  It will help to keep your dog calm and happy, and a calm happy dog is a great way to ensure your dog stays healthy and happy for many years to come.

Nick Carreno

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