Walking in a pack has a great many benefits for you and your dog, here are a few of my favourite ones…
- It’s a great confidence booster for your dog. Walking with a group of other dog and humans provides a feeling of security,
- It’s a great way to learn, especially for dogs that are out of practise. Tagging on at the back allows an anxious dog to feel in control as they can see and smell the other dogs. It’s non-confrontational as all the dogs are moving away from you, plus they can watch the other dogs greeting each other and learn normal greeting behaviour from a safe distance.
- It’s mentally stimulating to walk as a pack. Dogs are highly sociable animals and they love to be part of a large group. Walking with others is a great way to make them feel like they are part of something bigger and it fulfills both their safety and belonging needs.
- It’s great socialisation. Dogs need to be with other dogs, and especially in a calm way. Walking together with a variety of dogs with different needs and personalities is an awesome way to achieve this quickly. How often do our dogs get to make new friends.
- It’s good for you too! If you are unsure about your dogs behaviour, walking in a group of like minded people can be a great confidence booster, plus you’ll get to meet new doggie people!
Make the most of it!
If you have an anxious dog it’s better to hang around at the back. Your dog will be happiest following the confident dogs that are leading the way. Following the leader is natural dog behaviour and can be quite therapeutic, especially for a dog burdened by safety fears. Pack safety is a problem for the guys at the front.
Anxious dogs don’t like being watched or sniffed, so hanging at the back is much better for them where interaction can be on their terms. As they walk, they’ll get a lovely waft of all the smells from the other dogs too. Sniffing another dog, even at a distance, is the first step in getting to know them and, in time could lead to increased curiosity about other dogs. If you suddenly find your dog starting to pull towards another dog go with it, they are getting curious and want a better sniff! They might even surprise you and get close enough to sniff another dogs bum!
While you are walking, it’s important for you to be strong and show your dog through your own behaviour that they are safe. Stand tall and walk with purpose. If you are anxious, they will be anxious. But if you are sociable and relaxed then they will start to feel better.
Further reading... Lockdown has had a profound effect on our dogs and their behaviour, how did you manage throughout lockdowns?
Confident dogs will be happiest at the front of the pack. They like to lead the group and get a sense of purpose and fulfilment by doing that. If it’s a large pack the front quarter is perfect for them. Everyone else will fill the gaps in the middle and sides.
While you are waiting for the walk to start, some dogs can get a little restless. This can be a sign of anxiety, or excitement, but whatever the cause, the best things is to keep moving. If you can, find a space nearby and walk in circles, do a little basic training, or play with a toy to keep them distracted. Just keep one eye of the group and as soon as they start moving off, head over, and find your perfect spot.
If you are considering training it’ll give you the chance to chat to me before committing to a training plan. And if you are already in a plan, you’ll be able to test out your new techniques knowing I’m not far away.
Pack walks are coming back to Dundee on the 30th January, 2022!
Why not give it a go and join us on the next one…
I have more than 15 years experience solving all kinds of canine behaviour problems, at home and in rescue. A bad experience with a old fashioned dog trainer inspired me to learn more about dog behaviour, and it is because of him, that I wall never use harsh methods when training and rehabilitating dogs.
I work privately with clients in Dundee and the surrounding area with dogs of all ages, breeds and issues including anxiety, aggression and hyperactivity.
In 2009 I was proud to publish a book about dog behaviour and training. How to be the Perfect Pack Leader (by Caroline Jenkins) remains popular today and a follow up is expected very shortly.