Walking off-leash with a pack is the most natural way for dogs to socialize, exercise, and get the mental stimulation that nature intended. For each new dog that joins us, the hikes reinforce good “pack” behavior in the sense of not behaving in a hyper-excited way, not mounting, not nipping, learning to follow commands such as: “come”, “stay”, “sit” and “quiet”. We do not tolerate needless barking and when the pack is in the woods they are all very quiet. Regardless of age, dogs learn much faster and easier when they are with the pack – peer teaching seems to be the most effective way to socialize them.
New additions to the “regulars” train first in the Wholistic Resort garden so that we make sure they are comfortable with the “team”. The first couple of times in the park the new dog walks on a “long line” or a training leash/collar combo. Then, depending on each dog’s temperament and previous training they are left free to frolic with the pack.
Only two people are qualified to walk off-leash with our canine clients and both are experienced, K9 behaviorists. This is a very important detail, as walking off-leash with large packs presents challenges that many untrained dog-walkers cannot handle. The packs regularly meet bicycles, joggers with or without their dogs, fearful dogs, aggressive dogs, little children that are running and shouting, seniors walking with sticks, disc golfers with Frisbees that whizz past and clang on the poles ectetera.
All the above are excellent opportunities for desensitizing the dogs to challenges they will be meeting in their daily life with their owners. They are also opportunities for chaos and possible dog fights which are unpleasant for all concerned. All of us professionals who use the big Norwalk parks try to be as considerate as possible so that we do not lose our privileges.
During the hikes we take video footage and photos which we upload to our YouTube channel and send you links via email. This way you can keep up with your furry friend’s activities and also create a fabulous photo album! Here are some examples.
Contact Loukia via email in order to find out more about our dog walking service. We’d love to have your pup come on our hikes with us!