Tuesday, January 3, 2012

One of Our Favorites: Chicago Dog-Walking Club, Our Inaugural Trek

We were worried that people wouldn't join our dog walking club, so we were pleasantly surprised to find several great dog owners that came out for our inaugural walk. They are largely responsible for turning our small dog walking club into the SociaBulls. Here is a recap of our very first walk:

We had written before about our struggles to find ways to comfortably socialize our dogs in the city with other dogs, and how happy we were to get advice from HikeaBull, a group  in California who uses group walks for positive socialization, so we could start a dog walking club in Chicago. Knowing dogs have different levels of socialization, excitement, dog tolerance, and fear it is important to know how to bring them into a group comfortably.I will admit, I was a bit nervous being in charge of starting a dog walking group in Chicago, but after many conversations with Lark at HikeaBulls and understanding what works, we had a very comfortable and successful first walk!
We had a great starting line-up of dogs, including Buddy:
Torre and Jack:
Maize and the pooches:
All of the dogs were working on a variety of issues: from leash reactivity to over-excitement to being fearful to learning good dog manners. To make the walk a positive and comfortable experience for everyone, we let everyone know the issues we were working on beforehand, and we made sure to give everyone a lot of space so the dogs weren't overwhelmed: 
The natural rhythm of the pack walking is very social and calming for the dogs. During the walk they were able to come a bit closer, though we did go back to having a lot of space when we stopped for water breaks.
I had a hard time trying to decide where to have the actual walk, since I don't know of many 'hiking trails' in the city. Then I realized: our city has 18 miles of beautiful lakefront paths. We picked the south lakeshore path which is a beautiful scenic stroll with views of boats in the harbor, Solider Field, the museum campus, and, of course, our beautiful city skyline:
 We did see a storm rolling in, so we had to cut our walk a bit short, but we had a great experience and several smiling pooches:
Thanks again to  HikeaBulls for helping us understand how to structure a positive group hike, and to Jack, Torre, Buddy, and Maize, and their people, for being the 'pioneers' on our first group hike. And to Kelsey for walking Miss M, giving me a chance to walk around and talk to everyone.
We welcome other Chicago-area people to join us in the future. If you would be interested in joining us, please email us using the 'contact us' button on the sidebar and write "Dog Walking Club" in the subject line. And please like our Facebook page where we will continue to keep Dog Walking Club updates


Anonymous said...

Having experienced both your group and Hikeabull, I am more convinced than ever that I need to get a group like this started in Kansas City. Maybe once the weather warms up a bit!

Nancy said...

Congratulations on a job well done! Wish here were something like this in the L.A. area...

Two French Bulldogs said...

Very cool. We love this walking idea
Benny & Lily

Two Pitties in the City said...

I used to think the same thing, and I would watch the CA hikeabulls group, but after speaking with Lark I realized I could start my own. Waldobungie: you've seen both groups so I'm excited to see you start your own. Nancy: You should do one in LA. I don't know the area that well, but I feel like there have been a couple of people in your area that have told us they would be interested in a group too...

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