Social Dog Walks
Socialization is not just about play. I think sometimes dog owners think that the only way that their dog can socialize is through rough-housing with other dogs. There is so much value in dogs going on walks together, going on hikes together, and just simply exploring the environment together. They build bonds, learn how to resolve conflict, build trust, and generally learn to enjoy the company of other dogs.
Perhaps even more beneficial is that they learn how to exist with other dogs without being in a constant state of high arousal or play. There are so many dogs that I encounter who only know how to exist with other dogs when the arousal is high and they are playing like crazy. They really struggle (and often become reactive) when they are asked to just be with the other dogs without high arousal play. There are a lot of dogs who don’t like, or don’t appreciate, or don’t understand high arousal play but who like other dogs. What they want is a companion not a wrestle-mania buddy.
One of my favorite services that I offer dog walking clients is the option for a social walk with one (or both) of my dogs. It’s a great way for friendly dogs to get a chance to socialize in low-key situations with new dogs. I am careful when pairing dogs and will always take the personalities of both dogs into account but it’s great when they all start getting excited to see one another and go on adventures. The social walks can be really great for dogs who are friendly but a little bit concerned about other dogs because it isn’t a free-for-all and there isn’t the wrestle-mania attitude.
I got to have one of the best social walks in a long time with Shayne, Rio, and walking client, James Bond. The three of them seem to really enjoy each others company. They have 30 seconds of wild greeting when I let Shayne and Rio out of the car, but then they are busy sniffing, exploring, and enjoying the walk. If one finds a good sniff, it doesn’t take long for the others to join in on the sniff-fest but they all largely do their own thing. Occasionally I’ll catch a cute moment of the dogs sniffing each other but they are really nice and relaxed about their interactions.
Here are some photos from our awesome walk today…
If you live in the North Hills are of Pittsburgh and are looking for a dog walker (for social walks or one on one walks), you can check out our Dog Walking Page and get your pup some extra walks and fun!