Take Yourself for a Walk
Yeah, it’s been a while since I last posted and there have been a lot of things going on. From classes in Hawai’i to instructing employees opening a dog park/bar, it’s been very busy. But let’s talk about something most people struggle with and that’s walking their dogs.
It’s not like walking your dog is that difficult unless you want to practice leadership, which all dogs need to fulfill who they ACTUALLY are as canines. Most humans don't know how to do this naturally. Rules/boundaries/limitations and creating and enforcing rules is what constitutes leadership for our dogs. Your walk creates the Migration Ritual which is important to them and it doesn’t matter if it’s just the 2 of you or 100 more. However, having our dogs in a follow state of mind is the key to creating what we want on our walks.
Both in Hawai’i and here at home, I’ve conducted pack walks with one purpose in mind: I want the humans to stop focusing on their dogs and focus on humans taking a walk. When we walk as an actual pack, dogs get into the rhythm quickly because they KNOW this stuff; WE don’t practice it often enough. We practice excitement by offering treats to get our dogs to “behave”, which is only reinforcing an excited brain. When we simply walk and take our minds off the suspicion that we usually have with our dogs, we all go into another and different mind-set: one of relaxation and calm.
My last Aloha ‘Aina Beach Walk in Atlantic Beach we walked with 61 dogs total. While it is true that not every owner walked correctly, the vast majority did and enjoyed a loose leash walk for about an hour. People met new friends, had conversations, and remarked how well theirs and the other dogs were doing and it started the second the group began to walk.
Why? Because the pack was migrating. Walking with a purpose and a direction. The same happened in Hawai’i during a rainstorm that popped up during the class (In Kapiolani Park in Waikiki). No one left, the dogs were settled, and people got a chance to see who their dogs REALLY are, instead of what we sometimes believe because of past behaviors (good thing our dogs don’t hold a grudge against us for the same reasons, huh?).
Often, too much excitement uncorrected on the walk creates what humans call “aggression”, where in reality it is a dog with too much mental energy, not in a follow state of mind, uncorrected, and a human who gets unstable when dealing with it. Is your dog a product of you? Yes, they are. So remember this when you claim that the dog is fearful, aggressive, anxious, or any other HUMAN descriptive term we use for our canine companions.
Take yourself for a walk and take the dog with you. Learn how to correct without emotion. Learn how to communicate effectively ONLY with your energy and body language. And practice a calm/confident state of mind to become the leader your dog needs!