We as humans can be ‘slaves to the rhythm’ of our lives – we often like to have the same things, at about the same time, especially in these days where planning is the key to managing a busy life!
How does this affect our dogs? On a basic level, lots of dogs like a sense of routine in their lives – I am sure many of you could report that your dog knows exactly when dinner time is, or when you are due home from work! But too much routine can sometimes have a negative impact on the relationship we enjoy with our dogs, and here’s why…
Do you do the same walk, in the same direction, at the same time everyday? Do you and your dog do the route pretty much on auto-pilot? Of course it’s ok to have a regular or favourite walk, but we should also be taking our dogs to new places from time to time. Just taking your dog on a new walk in a different area can be mentally stimulating for your dog – he or she can pick up on new scents and check out the gossip from strange dogs. They are also more likely to be keeping half an eye on where you’re going!
Do you suffer from recall problems with your dog? Part of the problem may be the predictability of the route you take. Many dogs will work out quickly where the good bunny scents are, where people like to chuck half eaten hamburgers or where that stunning lady dog (or handsome beast) lives, and can get into a habit of investigating these without referring to you first. This can lead to your faithful furry heading over the horizon without a by your leave, leaving you in a panic!
Are you guilty of always putting him or her on the lead to go home in the same place or at the same time? There are plenty of dogs who will give you the canine equivalent of ‘blow that!’ and dance around you frustratingly just out of reach because they don’t want to go home just yet!
There are many resources available to us these days to helps us get out and explore the countryside, as well as the traditional OS maps, you can now go on the move with mobile phone apps and there are lots of websites and books that describe various walks (keep an eye on Drove’s website and Facebook page– more on this later in the year!) Ask friends and other doggy people for their suggestions and favourite walks to try, and then be brave and get out there! Not only will your dog enjoy a change of scenery, the chances are that you will too.
If you are travelling very far afield, remember to check that your dog has got appropriate identification on his or her collar, and take a water bottle and plastic dish for them to have a drink if needs be. Keep an eye out for livestock, and take a fully charged mobile phone with you just in case you get lost.
By Donna McDonnell , Dog Behaviourist at Drove Veterinary Hospital