Thoughts of a Dog Therapist – It’s Important To Take The Time To Understand A Dogs Behaviour

I’ve been walking two particular dogs for about 7 months now and when I first started they were nervous and didn’t want to walk with me. I gradually built up their confidence and they started to get excited when they knew it was me at the door and were happy on their walks but then something changed and they went back to their nervous behaviours. 

I went back to the start with them and again built their confidence and trust and again they started to enjoy their walks and then the other week they went backwards again to the point that I felt like I was literally forcing them to leave the house and come with me. 

I knew this was more than just the change of the weather and them not wanting to go out on a cold, wet morning (let’s be honest we’ve all been there)! 

So one morning, I put them in the van and as I was driving I asked them what the problem was and why they didn’t want to come for their walk anymore. I have to say the answer astounded me. 

Tubbs didn’t really care one way or the other he was basically just a henpecked husband. A bit like Victor Meldrew in the program Keeping Up Appearances. He just went with whatever Poppet wanted. 

Poppet on the other hand was really upset with me. She said I kept changing things without consulting them. They had just gotten used to where we walked and started to feel comfortable and I changed it and started walking them somewhere else. We then started meeting a friend at the second place and walking with their dog but then that stopped and now I’ve change the place that we walk again just as they were getting comfortable with the second one. 

I’ve added another dog to their walks, which she’s ok with but it’s still yet another change I’ve made to their walk, and all without consulting them.

She told me that it isn’t as if I don’t know how to talk it through with them because I was speaking to them now so I obviously just don’t think of them or their feelings. 

I apologised and told her that I’d had to make these changes because the other walks were getting too wet and muddy.  I explained that because they’re both so nervous and don’t like me cleaning them off or towelling them down I’d changed the walk as I didn’t like taking them home to their Mum and Dad in that state. She told me that in future I have to have the common decency to discuss changes with them before I make them as it’s meant to be their walk for them to enjoy. Not my walk, not mum or dad’s walk, if they’re happy being wet and soggy then I shouldn’t change it because I don’t like taking them back like that. 

I really got told off but it showed me just how much giving an animal a voice and allowing them to have their say means to them. 

I’m pleased to say that things have been better again since that little chat, I allow her to walk through as many muddy puddles as she likes and she goes home wet, soggy and very happy after every walk.