Most people recognize that walking can be very therapeutic but I find that walking with your dog can be so much more.
This morning we drove into S.E. Calgary to take Finn to Carburn Park for a walk. What a delightful spot this is at any time of year! It’s easy to forget that you’re in a very large, busy city once you’re in amongst the trees and wildlife, close to the Bow River. From a dog’s perspective there is much to sniff and explore but it is on leash. So, in order to mix it up and give him some off leash time we strode across a bridge to the west side of the Bow into the Sue Higgins dog park. Apparently years ago this park had been earmarked to become a golf course but, due to pressure from dog lovers, the City had a change of heart and left it as open ground and later named the park after Sue Higgins, a dog lover and former Calgary City Councillor. Thank you City of Calgary for your change of heart!
It was only when Finn was off leash that I fully recognized the joy of being with my dog and seeing the pleasure he gets in being able to explore, sniff around and meet up with fellow canines. It is a time to watch and study your dog in a relaxed environment. I find myself asking questions about canine activity which likely will never be answered: why did he choose to pee in a particular spot? Why does he choose to sniff and play with some dogs, yet completely ignore others? What is it about certain twigs that he will carry them or chew them but ignore the thousand and one other things lying on the ground?
Use walking with your dog as a time to reinforce obedience too. Never assume that because your dog was once taught how to sit, stay or come on command that your dog will always remember. They need refreshers and being out with your dog is the perfect time to practice some of these commands, making sure that appropriate praise/ reward is given if your dog responds correctly.
Does it get any better than seeing your dog enjoying himself being immersed in nature or running with new found friends, tails wagging, playing in the unique way that dogs do?
Of course it is everyone’s own choice how and when they interact with their dog on a walk. But I am saddened when I see people constantly on their cell phones, ignoring their dogs. Yes, sometimes situations arise where you need to take the call but my guess would be that most calls are social chit chat. My suggestion would be put away your cell phone and enjoy the moment with your dog. There is also the matter of being aware of where your dog is at all times and of cleaning up after him in the event that he has to poop. Cell phones can easily cause you to lose focus on your dog.
Whether you’re out walking with your dog on a warm summer’s day or having to wear extra layers during an Alberta winter’s day, make the most of being with your dog and appreciate what these special creatures are offering you.