Don’t get in a Rut Roh!

20220812_114542Everyone benefits from a routine and our dogs are no exception.  Dogs may even know our daily routine better than we do!  They wake up in the morning, watch us get ready for the day, see us check our phone… and stay on our phone…and stay on our phone…probably saying, “Dang what is up with the phone!”, and then FINALLY we grab the leash and go!   Granted a dog may not have an internal dialog, but the observations made by our dogs have a building effect over time.  My Belle, for instance, will bump her cold nose on my leg as a reminder to keep me moving in the right direction in the morning in case I get sidetracked.  Granted, I am well aware of her need to go out, but I totally understand her feelings.  If I were her I would do the same thing! 

Each step in our daily patterns is a series of links that occur before we even put the leash on. One step begets the next, until we have the moment when the desired experience has been reached. Over time dogs begin to anticipate what will happen on a walk and depending on past experience can become either jubilant, hyper, hesitant, or even defensive… and we haven’t even gone out the door yet. For instance, if our dog’s daily walk involves passing that one neighbor who’s dog barks viciously at everyone who passes by, then over time our dogs can come to expect it and some may seek ways to cope through tension, which if left unresolved can be expressed defensively, aggressively, or wanting to avoid it altogether.  On the other hand, if going out the door results in getting in the car to get some coffee and a puppachino, then that becomes an expectation, which builds excitement and positive anticipation.  


  The regular morning outing is a definite routine for many dogs, where the favorite bush is sniffed and re-marked, the same tree is checked for the squirrel, and then it’s back home to eat breakfast and fall asleep again! However, we should check every now and then to make sure we are not getting into a rut of the same ole same ole that becomes boring for us and our dogs. 


So shake things up with new small adventures!  Remember, dogs are hardwired to seek.  They get excited by what is new and adventurous.   A simple drive to a coffee shop and a walk downtown can be an adventure in and of itself.  Walking around the gas station after filling up the gas tank has a mind-blowing amount of smells and experiences.  We don’t have to search far to find interesting new things.   

Instead of the usual walk in the neighborhood, take a different path, go down the cul-de-sac you usually pass by, or better yet get in the car and drive to a new walking location altogether.  Even including them when taking the trash to the curb can be something new in the daily routine that is different and interesting. It is something you are doing together and that builds rapport and connection between you both. Finding ways to include your dog in the small adventures of your life will create new opportunities for interest and confidence, preparing you both for even bigger adventures down the road!IMG_20211210_124155_922


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