Thursday, April 12, 2012

See You On The Happy Trails...

Stewart, Trolley & Raven enjoying an afternoon in the sun.

I think one of my favorite activities to do with a dog is the most simple - a walk.  It's been my experience that owners that walk their dogs at least once a day have dogs whose behavior is much, much better.  The relationship between the client and their dog is improved as well.

Walks are not just about moving your limbs - a walk also exercises other muscles.  One important muscle to keep well toned and flexible is your dog's socialization muscle.  Dogs need exposure to novel things in order to become (and remain) well socialized in our world.  This is especially true for dogs in the working and herding groups where breeders are often selecting for dogs with a "reserved temperament".  Reserved is not synonymous with outgoing.  If you isolate any dog but especially those breeds selected to have a cautious or reserved temperament you are asking for trouble.  Dogs that are not continually socialized and exposed to novelty run the risk of becoming nervous, spooky or even aggressive.

What is novel to a dog...who really knows.  But I think new sights, sounds, odors are important for them. When your dog takes a walk hopefully he will see people - short people, tall people, young and old.   People in uniform, pushing strollers or in wheelchairs.  Seeing people helps to keep your dog social and a social dog is comfortable and friendly in the world.  On your walks you'll also see other dogs, cats, UPS trucks, garden gnomes and those really scary bags flapping in the wind.  He'll hear wind chimes and sirens and music blaring from cars.

When you and your dog come home from your walk your dog will have all of those sights, sounds,  smells and experiences to process.  This will make your dog calmer and much easier to live with and  be around.  I can't understand why more people are not out walking their dogs.

At Good Dog! Training we have started a new "Dog Walking Group" we meet every Sunday at noon at a local park, path or trail and walk our dogs.  We have had excursions all over the Greater Lansing Area.  These walks are great for the dogs and their owners.  A group walk is the perfect way to socialize any dog - exuberant dogs are learning that there is more than one way to socialize i.e. wrestling constantly with other dogs is not the only way of life.  Fearful dogs are in the presence of other calm dogs and their humans and gain confidence as they draft off of these other dogs and owners.  And for the owners of reactive dog or dogs that need some distance -- again those dogs are walking in the calm presence of other dogs and are learning "hey no one is going to hurt me...this is kind of fun".

Everyone that has attended our walks are saying that their dog's behavior is much better and how much they enjoy the experience.  If you'd like to have our schedule for locations - please join and "like" our Good Dog! Training Facebook page.  Each week we discuss where we'd like to meet that Sunday.

See you on the trails...

To get more information about Good Dog! Training or to register for our Outdoor Adventures Class, or try out a sport like Flyball or Circus tricks visit our website.