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  • Richard Chan

Don't take your dog out for his walk.

I was in a restaurant and there was a couple sitting next to our table. The wife was really dressed up, her hair was beautifully done, her makeup was impeccably applied, and the gown she was wearing matched perfectly with her purse and her necklace. The husband, on the other hand, was very casually dressed in a polo shirt and a pair of jeans. He appeared to be quite troubled by something at work and spent his whole evening on his phone, while the wife quietly ate across from him.

At the end of the dinner, the wife was mad at the husband for ignoring her the whole night, and the husband replied, 'I did not want to be here in the first place, it was your idea. What do you expect?"

This reminds me of what I have observed very often between dog owners and their dogs.

Lots of dog owners think of the walk as "the dog's walk", something that they do for their dogs, for potty or to stop their dogs from having too much pend up energy. Many look at it as a duty and regard it as something that is done solely for the benefit of their dogs. If they can talk to their dogs they may say something like, "I never want to be here. I am doing this for you. I just want to be home. So, come on, let's go."

A dog is a pack animal. When a dog is out on a walk with his human, he is walking with his pack leader. The walk is not just the dog's walk, it is a pack walk consisting of two parties--the pack leader (which is the human) and the dog.

So, a dog walk is your (plural) walk, not just the dog's walk.

If you feel like you are taking the dog out for a walk just because you have to, you are like the husband who felt that he had to be physically there at the dining table because his wife had asked him to.

A dog is very good at observing our body language. A dog that is always taken out for a walk by an owner with an attitude like that of the husband in the story will feel bored, lonely, and dissatisfied--much like the wife in the story would.

Even though such a dog may have some exercise daily he is still going to be dissatisfied because the walk is not just about physical exercise for the dog--it is about something much deeper.

I spend a lot of time walking my dogs. I walk them together and then I walk them one by one every single day.

I love to walk with my dogs. It is a great time for us to know each other. I look at it like a date between me and my dog.

Just like how two people can know each other better through spending lots of time together, as me and my dog walk together, we gain valuable information about each other, which in turn helps us to develop a stronger bond and a deeper relationship.

I take my dogs to places where they may feel uncomfortable and I encourage and help them to overcome their fear; I take my dogs to places they love to go to and we play together and have a party; I take my dogs to places they used to have problems with and I celebrate with them for having overcome those issues. If we come across things that my dogs are scared of, I will step in and advocate for them; if we see something they are not sure, I will give them guidance and help them. I also take lots of time to teach them, during our walk, how to walk next to me and focus on me and trust me.

The walk is OUR walk, not just the dog's. The walk allows me the valuable opportunity to train my dogs and to know their strength and shortcomings.

The walk is like a human relationship. If you do not invest emotionally into it you cannot really expect to have a deep understanding of the other party. If you do not understand each other, how can you form a strong bond, how can you develop trust, and how can you have a good relationship?

When you walk your dog next time, take the opportunity to enjoy the company of your dog and offer your companionship in return.

Think of yourself as a wolf migrating with your pack. A wolf cannot afford to be mentally checked out and ignore the pack--and either should you.

So, don't take your dog out for HIS walk. It is not just your dog's walk.

Lead your dog on YOUR pack walk instead.

Enjoy your walk.

#balancedtraining #dog #dogpark #engagement #exercise #focus #implusecontrol #offleash #packstructure #positiveonlyforcefree #reactivity #socialization #training


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