The Starting Gate – Starting with Calm


Boots and Bee Photography - By Brittany Graham

Boots and Bee Photography – By Brittany Graham

Just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do doesn’t mean it’s useless – Thomas A. Edison

When Porter and I start our walks, it starts inside the apartment. That means that I don’t open the door until he’s calm and paying attention to me. Sometimes this takes a few minutes and sometimes he gets it right away. However, it doesn’t matter how long it takes, because I’ll wait until calm is what I get. There is no way you can have a successful walk when it starts out chaotic.

So, the other day we started off our walk inside the apartment in a calm manner. We walked outside and just as I locked up I heard the corridor entrance door opened. It was one of those instinct moments. For some reason, I knew the dog that lives in our building that has lunged and acted aggressively toward me and Porter was about to enter. I also knew there was nowhere near enough time for me to unlock the door and get inside. So, I took a deep breath, used strong body language and faced Porter using my body as a blocker. I focused on controlling him because that’s all I can do. I cannot control the other dog or the other owner. I could only control Porter.

As the barking and growling started I stayed focused, deep breaths and concentrating on answering Porter’s questions. Fortunately, the other owner soon realized the situation and exited back out the door. This allowed Porter and I to exit out the back. However, what did this mean for our walk? Well, we started out the complete opposite of calm so now it was not going so well.

Boots and Bee Photography - By Brittany Graham

Boots and Bee Photography – By Brittany Graham

If your walk starts out in complete chaos by some circumstance, realize that you can take some time to regroup and set it on a good path again.

Make sure any anxiety that you’re holding onto is shaken off. No matter what just happened, make sure you take deep breaths and get back to a calm state yourself. You guys survived! No reason to keep harping on it. Your dog will immediately feel your shift in energy and realize that if you’re calm, then they have nothing to worry about.

Answer your dog’s questions. Your dog may suddenly have 1,000 questions about if everything else is now a threat. So guess what? You have to answer all 1,000. Use your body language. If you need to, pivot in front of your dog, stopping your dog’s forward motion. Wait here with strong body language until your dog’s tense energy has shifted.

Remember, you may have to go slower on the walk to get your dog to focus more. There’s nothing wrong with that. Distance isn’t everything. The quality of the walk is just as important. Take your time.

Boots and Bee Photography - By Brittany Graham

Boots and Bee Photography – By Brittany Graham

If your walk doesn’t start out the way you want it to, don’t sweat it. Go back to your basics. They won’t fail you. Don’t get frustrated with your dog. Realize that this walk may not be your best and work on making it better than when you first started. Any progress is just that… progress.

We can’t control unexpected occurrences on our walks. But, we can react to them accordingly. Keep exuding that calm energy, answer your dog’s questions and slow down. You’ll be able to ease back into the walk that you’re used to.

Keep calm and pilot on

Danika Migliore
Darwin Dogs, LLC
Dog Training in Cleveland, OH

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