Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
- Robert Frost
Most people drive to work the same way each and every day. The drive soon becomes monotonous and is suddenly muscle reaction. There’s no thinking involved, no excitement, just an automatic pilot response to get there. Some people have found the cure to this, which is obvious. Switch up the way you drive to work every once in a while. It keeps things interesting and helps you actually pay attention to your surroundings.
So, guess what? You should probably switch up your walk with your dog as well. Your daily walks with your dog are extremely important. However, just continuing on the same path daily is boring. Yeah, your dog may behave perfectly on that 4 block radius, but guess what? He’s just on auto pilot. He’s not obtaining any mental stimulation from the walk and you’re not putting any more money in your Piloting bank from it. You cannot expect any of fido’s issues (dog reactivity, prey drive, general leash manners) to improve if you don’t challenge him.
Pick a day when you’re feeling confident and venture out. It could be as simple as turning down a different street or as adventurous as going to a different park. Either way you’ll be challenging both yourself and your dog.
Now remember, your dog is going to react differently to different surroundings. New places are exciting. They have different smells, different surroundings and different people and dogs. This means that you will be correcting more. Don’t become frustrated. What you’re doing is Piloting your dog through a new situation. Each time you make it through a new situation and you’re able to keep both you and your dog alive, your dog begins to trust you even more. You’re creating a new and stressful situation and Piloting your dog out of it safely. Guess what? You just gained some major money in your Piloting bank.
Again, yes, you’ll be correcting more and the walk will be harder on both you and your dog. However, your dog will be even more tired after the walk. And we all know my favorite saying, a tired dog is a good dog. With a new area to explore there’s much more mental stimulation that’s occurring. Just like if you’re driving through a new area of the next town over. You’re using a lot more brain power to focus on your task of driving. Your dog is going to be using much more mental activity to focus on walking correctly.
If you don’t feel up to the challenge, then don’t do it that day. You need to feel confident and able to take it on. But trust me, you can. It may not seem like it, but if you’ve Piloted your dog enough to walk him in a familiar area you can Pilot him enough to walk him somewhere new. Get out there and see what else other places have to offer with your four legged best friend. Trust in your Piloting skills and enjoy some new adventures.
Darwin Dogs, LLC
Dog Training in Cleveland, OH