Have you ever been involved in a pack walk? Pack walks are groups of people and dogs with no set number. I happen to conduct them once or twice a month and have been doing it for about 2 years and our groups keep growing! Let’s talk about the reason pack walks are important for you, and important for your dog.
The most important reason is for your dog’s nature. They are pack animals that have a social structure that includes working together constantly. One job is the migration. This is simply movement with a purpose. Hunting, moving to a more resource rich territory, all done with followers following and leaders leading. The migration ritual occurs every time you walk, and your dog goes with you. Often, this is not what happens on a walk; the dogs are in a lead/explore/play state of mind rather than a follow state. This means they are NOT following direction, nor do they believe that the handler is an actual leader. There is a time and place for everything, and as the pack moves the pack is not exploring whenever or wherever they please. It happens, but it happens under direction.
Dogs do understand follow, which is also why it’s so easy to reset their brain when leadership appears. The human, being the leader, must direct appropriately and this includes creating and enforcing rules/boundaries/limitations. This is how you love your dog – by respecting who they truly are.
The second reason – and it’s on an even par with the first reason – is for the human to take their mind off the dog. When we enjoy our walks with our pack, we begin to change the energy we possess in the moment. This is where our dogs live. We also set a ritual of our own, one we’ll repeat. Correct as necessary, yes. But enjoy and celebrate the time you are spending together with other people and dogs as well as your dog.
Please remember, however, it is up to you to decide what mindset you and the dog have. When you take a walk with your dog, is it like what Cesar Millan describes as taking your child into Chuck-E-Cheese where you practice excitement? Or is it like I describe as taking your child into church? There is a time and place for both, but the dog (and the child) can make better decisions when we start on a calmer note. That’s why your calm walk starts the second you DECIDE to go get the leash.
One thing that has been apparent from the beginning: our walks now average about 50 dogs. When that large a group comes together it doesn’t that all the dogs are calm, especially in the beginning. But it is surprising when we start moving in a certain direction how quickly the pack settles into the migration ritual and all just walk forward… with a purpose… because the humans are directing the activity, not just their dog.
Find a pack walk or create one. Anywhere, anytime, with whomever shows up. I’ve done as little as one other dog. We’ve done as many as 61 dogs. My pack and I walk somewhere under direction every day. Have fun. Smile. Live in the moment!
Until the next time, get out and walk and take your dog with you!