Tuesday, July 9, 2013

City Dog: How Dog-Walking is like Dating

Without a backyard, I used to lament needing to take our pooches on our daily walks. Eventually, I realized how this was important for us to have dedicated time spent together; I use this time to continue working on our training and communication.
And I think it's really because of these dedicated walks, my understanding of them and their understanding of me, that our pups are able to comfortably do things like this, this, and this.
I know it's hard to constantly be "on" with training, though one rule of thumb I use: if you wouldn't do it on a date, you probably shouldn't do it while walking on your dog.

If You're not talking and interacting, it's a boring date
You would never go on a date where you don't talk, bother to look at each other, or spend the entire time walking 3 feet behind your date. During our walks I make sure the pups are walking at my side and paying attention to me. We make it engaging by practicing tricks, using the city as an obstacle course, and working on check-ins that help them with distractions.

Give your full attention; walking and texting is rude
Much like you wouldn't answer a phone call or start texting in the middle of a date, it's also rude to do this when you're out walking your pup. I make sure the time I'm with them is their time, and this has helped me learn so much more about them helping with our communication and lessoning frustrations. I know certain areas where Mr. B will bolt because he expects to see a feral cat, I watch for growing mushrooms so Miss M won't try to eat one, and I've learned our pooches' bathroom habits that are really helpful to know when I need them to go quickly.

Don't Let your Date Check out Other Dates
Much like you would be upset if your date spent time head swiveling and trying to interact with other dates, we let our pups know this walking time isn't a time to go out and meet other dogs. This is our time to walk, and if our pups are able to meet a dog then they will expect to meet every dog we meet. Which is challenging when there are probably 30 dogs living on our block alone. We also know when dogs stare it can be considered uncomfortable and challenging to other dogs, so we keep our pups focused on us as a courtesy to all the other dogs out with their people.
These are some things we've observed.

Are there any other ways you think dog walking is like dating?

Check out our Facebook page for extra photos and storylines that don't always make the blog
How we really use it
This was the dog command that changed our lives
Our dogs like showing off like this


Olya Z said...

You make so MANY great points! It will make me now view our three-times-daily walks more productive and meaningful. I forget that it's not just about "doing his business", but a time for him to explore and for us to spend the one-on-one time together, which we rarely do! Thanks for the insight!!!!!!!!

OG said...

SO TRUE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!I'm guilty of checking my email while walking Petey :(. I guess it's because we've been together so long :)

SherBear said...

such a great analogy!! what are you "telling" your dog when you can't be bothered to give them your undivided attention for such a short period of time?? I love walking Nala around the neighborhood - it's such great bonding time for us! since I'm not engrossed in anything but her we also meet all types of people - the firefighters at the local firehouse, workers/fans at Wrigley Field, people hanging around the Center on Halsted, etc etc - it's very rare of us to go for a walk and NOT engage with another person, never a bad thing for the pup!

sweetemaline said...

This is so true... Turk would like me to add "on a date, you wouldn't take a bazillion photos of your date and post them to instagram right away" because he gets annoyed when I am instagramming him instead of walking him! ;)

Emily @ Our Waldo Bungie

Unknown said...

I put in a backyard fence years ago when I only had two dogs - immediately, I missed the 5 daily walks we took, the interaction of which you speak, and being able to see the world better from their perspective. I still walk dogs, but it's not the same. Kudos to the attention and dedication to give to your dog walks. And yes, they are DOG walks, not me out for exercise; I let my hounds sniff and stop as needed - this is THEIR walk :).

Two French Bulldogs said...

That is so funny and true. Never thought about it
Benny & Lily

Maggie said...

This really made me laugh! Although, I have to give a big old AMEN to the no texting and walking! It drives me crazy! This is the perfect analogy to have a strong relationship. Love it!

Anonymous said...

This is WONDERFUL! It's so true! It's funny cause neighbors always come out and talk about how well the boys are dressed, as if they ARE on a date! Love it!

Chantelle said...

Very insightful post. It's so easy to become a lazy dog walker, but I've been forcing myself to bring treats on our outings and randomly "surprise" my dog with requests for "sits", "downs" or "shakes" during our walk.

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