Since the puppies are with their new owners, except Swagger, it’s time for us to get my other dogs back into their exercise routine. Exercise is so important for a happy and healthy dog and for a healthy and happy human.
It’s easy to do passive exercise with Izzy and Fancy, because they are disc dogs and will play until they can run no more. However, there’s more to exercise than running after a disc in the back yard.
We have a 4 mile walking/running/biking trail just down the street from us and as of this week, I promised myself and especially Ike, Fancy and Rosie that we would be there once a day. Besides burning calories for myself, the benefits to walking on a trail are numerous.
First, dogs need to walk on a loose leash beside you and that takes practice. In my younger life, I thought an extend leash was the way to go and wondered why my dogs pulled until they choked themselves on a walk. Now I know they had not learned that we were partners in the walk rather than them being the head honcho and me the underling. Some dogs learn this much more easily than others, but I’ve found that a pocket full of super yummy treats to pop in their mouth when they’re doing it right soon teaches them the reward of staying with me. Loose leash is not “heeling” as we do in obedience competition, but does mean they walk at our side in a relaxed fashion.
Second, our dogs have to learn to make way for the other walkers with wheels: bicycles, little children on their trikes, and skaters. Herding dogs like to herd, of course, so they have to practice ignoring those folks that buzz by us at top speed. You remembered…a pocket full of treats, and add a clicker on your wrist if you think to bring it along. Bike passing, say pup’s name, they look at you instead of the bike, click and pop a treat. It won’t take long, until they are begging for bikes to come by.
And, of course, walkers with other dogs. That one is not so easy because some of those “other” dogs aren’t as well behaved as ours. If I’m out with more than one dog, I don’t typically do any greeting on the trail, it just turns into a mishmash of dog tails and is too risky. It doesn’t always work, but I keep my dogs by my side as much as I can, do lots of singsong talking, pop treats and keep walking. If you hear me singing Happy Birthday to my dogs, it doesn’t mean they have a cake with candles waiting at home. It is a happy song after all, and gets their attention and gives me a more relaxed feeling so I don’t panic when I see a 120 pound Mastiff walking my way on the trail straining against the owner’s leash, and of course, the owner has on earphones and is not noticing their dog’s body language. Happy birthday to you….pop a treat…happy birthday to you…pop a treat. You get the idea.
Izzy got her dose of Frisbee tonight with Swagger running along behind her (so darn cute) and the other dogs got their walk on the trail. They are relaxed and I’m relaxed. What a good way to spend a cool Spring evening!