Observing dogs and their behaviour, lead walking, barking, chasing, aggression, recall etc.¬†is¬†one of my favourite pastimes.
A couple of weekends ago my family and I spent¬†an afternoon walking along Exmouth sea front.¬†¬†It was a¬†lovely day¬†and every man and his dog appeared to be out enjoying the late Summer sunshine.¬† We decided to treat ourselves to an ice cream and¬†grabbed a vacant bench overlooking the beach.
I find it fascinating to watch dogs doing ‘dog stuff’ the way they meet and greet, invite play, pull on the lead, bark non stop, chase other dogs (whether they want to be chased or not!) show aggression to each other or their owner for not throwing ‘their’ ball quick enough,¬†totally ignoring their owners¬†desperate attempt at recall …!¬† Oh dear.
And there, in amongst all of this manic, frantic, hyper ‘dog stuff’ appeared an elderly¬†woman and her two dogs.¬†She had a¬†young black Labrador and a liver¬†and white¬†Springer Spaniel.¬†She was carrying one of those tennis ball throwing¬†sticks.¬† Her two dogs were off their¬†lead’s,¬†but chose to walk with¬†her, not running off to the far end of the beach, not playing with the other 1000 and¬†1¬†dogs also¬†on the beach, no they chose to walk alongside her.¬† This lady caught my attention because both she and her dogs stood out as being ‘different’ from the rest.
Without saying a word the lady¬†turned to face her dogs and put up the flat of her hand, both dogs stopped¬†walking and looked up at her, she took a couple of steps forward and threw the tennis ball (using the throw stick) the dogs looked at her, she said something, which I guess was a release word.¬† Both dogs ran like the wind, the¬†Labrador was just a fraction quicker than¬†it’s mate and claimed the ball as¬†the reward.¬† Both dogs¬†ran side by side along the waters edge, splashing in the water, full of joy.¬† The lady carried on walking along the beach.¬† Both dogs saw their owner walking away from them and quickly caught up, fell in behind her and the three of them¬†continued ¬†to¬†walk together as a pack.¬† The Labrador carried the tennis ball in it’s mouth until the lady turned, the dog dropped the ball, the lady scooped it up with the throw stick and off they went.¬† No commands of DROP! LEAVE IT! RELEASE! No food rewards either nor frantic stroking or enthusiastic patting!¬† This was repeated several times as they walked together along the beach. All three of them calm, relaxed and happy.
Sadly most of the other dog owners on the beach looked stressed, having to apologise to other dog owners for their dogs jumping up, constant barking, aggressive ‘play.’ And all of this without the ultimate stress inducing exercise of trying to get the dog back on it’s lead!
A well mannered dog is a joy to own, it really isn’t that difficult to achieve, you just need to know how. Don’t just put up with your dog – be proud of it!