A client asked if their dog was happy on walks.This is a reply to a clients request about her dogs progress. It has been completely unidentified - but I am relating it here, because its probably what a lot of people are thinking about dog walks:
Q1. what is he like when you come to pick him up; is he friendly and wanting to go with you or is he hesitant
A1 Some dogs are naturally friendly without much socialisation, other are petrified when their owners leave. It can take time for an anxious dog to get over this and one walk per week will not do it. Initially 3 walks (Monday to Friday) plus a clients walks off lead on the week end will make a dog much more robust
It is NOT a question of "does my dog like going for walks" but about how long before your dog will be self assured and balanced and naturally want to be picked up for walks. Many dogs change from anxious to just excited to be in a dog park when we get to the park.
Q2. what's he like to handle when he's out with his dog friends?
A2 Some dogs are fine on walking harness, some will struggle like the end of the world, fearing all the dogs around them, that they sat in the car with. Many dogs will do that initially.
The journey in the back of the car actually acts as a great bonder for the dogs. At the park dogs will often just look around be very natural like the other dogs, sensing their calm energy. That is the power of the social dog pack that no human can give.
Q3. What makes him look like he's happy in the photos
A3 I sent a report and images after every dog walk or pet sit.
People might question how happy their dogs look in the photo - but even if a dog looks anxious, it will be so for its life UNLESS it learns to be happy running around in a dog park. That is the true nature of freedom for dogs, being in a dog pack, with happy social dogs.
You often find that a dog won't take treats when they are anxious (as expected for dogs not socialised outdoors a lot) and until that happens, a dog's anxiety will remain relatively high. Some dogs will take six months to accept a liver treat. Its not about the taste for him or nutrition, its about a dog seeing another dog get a reward and wanting to be part of the pack, that should come in time.
Q4. what part of the walk does he seem to enjoy doing the best,
A4 When a dog is learning recall they will be tied securely to me at all times. Because they are tied to me the entire time, it is really hard to gauge what a dog is enjoying.
Only when a dog is ready to be off lead, and they are checking for scents themselves will you see their true nature and what they enjoy doing. Some dogs engage dogs, some humans and some dogs and humans. Some are dominant or submissive. these are all natural things.
Q5. Is there any dog he's buddied up with
A5 Dogs often make friends with dogs the same breed or same size, but mostly its about the energy level and how social the other dog is.
A puppy will play with almost any dog, but as they grow older they always get more selective. The social dogs in our pack interact with different dogs in our pack and walking past us, on a moment by moment notice. You will find only very insecure dogs (adult) tend to bond and stick to only one dog on a walk for protection.
Q6. How is he in the car? How would you see him if another dog was aggressive to him? He doesn't know them well.
A7 if you have watched any of our facebook videos of the dogs in our car, before or after the walk, you will see that they are all well behaved. Its no miracle, they have no reason to fight each other. A balanced dog doesn't start a fight and they wouldn't be off lead in a dog park if I couldn't trust them.
It can take a social dog a little while to learn to travel with other dogs in a car to a park, but usually it bonds the dogs more, it doesn't give them more anxiety.
Q7. Are you alone on your walk or does someone assist you?
A7 I drive my car alone, but dogs only are together like the photo in the car, in the car.
When we get well into a park, they are almost all off lead. And dog parks are places where you mostly find social dogs and good owners. I have been doing this for long enough to spot any potential issues. This is my day job.
Most people would not take a whole tribe of adults along to supervise a dog when they go to a park, and it isn't necessary with social dogs. If you want 1 on 1 walks we can provide that too, but its either decreased time or increased cost, and the dog doesn't always get to run with a pack, which is kind of the whole point.
It is natural for dog owners who really care about their dogs to ask questions. If they follow us on facebook they will see our daily dog adventures and they can see that all dogs return home safely and happy.
If you walk a pack of dogs every day, and meet new dogs in the park, and know when to not intrude, when to protect your dog in the very rare situation that you need to, then you are doing what I am doing. I wouldn't take my own dog to these parks, with these packs of dogs if there was the slightest chance that the social benefit, the mental and physical benefit far outweighed any worst case scenario that people like to dream up.
Safety, fun and socialisation are the hallmarks of our business.