Walk This Way
This is part 3 of the story of how learning to help Candace with her issues inspired me to do the same for other dogs and create Candace's Pack Dog Rescue
Most people don’t know how powerful walking their dog can be at strengthening their bond. I consider it one of the most important lessons I’ve learned.
Dogs would rather be walking with their pack. This is when they're at their happiest, and the reason why they get so excited when you grab that leash.
Candace didn't know how to walk on a leash and to be fair, I didn't really know how to walk a dog either. I thought like most people you just let the dog walk in front, wander around sniffing from left to right until they're finished doing their business.
In his book “Be The Pack Leader”, Cesar describes a "Structured Walk". The structure begins with 10 to 15 minutes of migration where you move as a pack with a short leash, her head is up, you’re focused on moving forward together. The second part is where you slow down, loosen the leash and let the dog sniff, explore and relieve themselves. Last is the return home, again with a short leash (short, not tense) moving forward together.
Once we implemented more structure, the results were incredible. Candace became more disciplined, more focused, less distracted and less fearful. The times that she did get spooked, she’d follow my lead and find that I was calm and not reactive to what had scared her. When she pulled, I'd remind her that pulling wasn't allowed by slowing down, stopping and/or saying "Shsht!" and she'd get the message that we don't move forward if she's pulling.
Our behaviorist Janice Wolfe said it best "She's allowed to be scared, but she's not allowed to break the rules"
Eventually, with A LOT of consistency, mistakes, strategy changes and more mistakes, Candace has become a model canine citizen. I'm very proud to say that she no longer reacts to people passing by or to most loud noises. If she does get scared by something, she recovers faster than ever. More importantly, the amount of trust we have built with her is more than I ever imagined it could be.
All of this was done by being calm, confident and simply walking. Walking with my dog side by side, living in the moment. That, to me, is harmony.
"Walking a dog is the easiest way to get a dog to become a friend" - Cesar Millan
This post originally appeared on our IG feed on 5/13/2019
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