When You’re Out With Your Dog, Are You Dialed In?
Just because youíre on a walk together doesnít mean youíre really connecting.
When our son John was just a year old, he loved to walk atop a low stone wall in front of the old parish house around the corner. I’d lift him up and hold his hand as he threaded his way along, delighted at the novelty of walking “high” off the ground and pleased with his competence at being able to stay afoot on the relatively narrow ledge.
Fast forward 14 years. “Pum pum,” he now says to our shiba inu Rosie, his verbal cue to our dogs to attend, and up she jumps on that very wall, grinning as she goes and no doubt happy to be higher up than usual and the object of John’s attention.
Neither John nor Rosie knows it, but with that maneuver they are participating in dog parkour, a new form of owner-dog connecting that is kind of like agility training without the hassle of having to make time to get to an actual agility class. It involves creatively using things in the environment — walls, park benches, fallen tree trunks — to get a dog to climb, jump, or otherwise mix things up and thereby render outings with her owner more fun and challenging.
It also deepens the bond between person and pet. After all, when you’re interacting with your dog on walks rather than talking on your cell phone or checking messages, you’re giving her what she craves most: more you. And that creates not only a happier dog, but also one who’s more likely to tend to your cues to sit, stay, and do other things you want because she’ll feel more cared about and more connected. For more on dog parkour (there’s even an association that offers ideas for various moves while you’re out with your pet), see the article beginning on page 3.
You can also make life outside more interesting for your dog when you’re gardening and really want to get things done rather than spend time directly interacting with her. The article beginning on page 6 tells how to create a garden that she can enjoy without your constantly having to remind her to please not eat (or trample or pee on) the daisies. She will love being out there with you rather than stuck in the house. After all, it’s summer for her, too. n
Happy tails to you,