***Next walk- 16th June 2018, St Anne’s Park- get in touch to book your place!***
Dogs are social animals and need friends and the opportunity to interact safely and appropriately with their own type. Social walks are a great way to build and maintain good social skills in your dog as well as to provide mental stimulation and tire them out!
In order to ensure that social walks are an enjoyable experience for all involved, here are a few things to bear in mind.
Harnesses– All dogs on social walks must be wearing a well-fitting harness. I can offer a harness fitting service along with an appropriate harness where needed. I stock Calming Signs harnesses, which range in price from €25-€35, depending on size (see shop!). For certain breeds (such as sighthounds and very small puppies), I may recommend other brands and can source these where necessary.
Leads– I recommend leads which are 2-3 metres in length. I can sell you one of these for €15, or you can borrow one for class. Please let me know in advance if you need one. Retractable leads are not suitable for social walk classes.
Treats– We sometimes work on some training exercises during social walks classes, and will nearly always include some sort of scent work. Please bring plenty of tasty treats!
Turid Rugaas’s book ‘Calming Signs: On Talking Terms with Dogs’. Reading your dog’s body language is so important and even more so on social walks where you have a group of dogs together.
- Please keep your dog on a lead unless advised otherwise by me.
- Keep me updated on any issues your dog might be having. If your dog has had a stressful experience or an illness or injury during the week, do let me know before class begins.
- If your dog has any contagious illnesses (kennel cough, tummy bugs etc.) please do not come along to class that week.
- I will advise the class at the beginning if there are any dogs that need extra space. Please respect this. No matter how friendly your dog is, being accosted by another dog can really set a nervous dog back, not to mention creating the possibility for squabbles.
- Keep a close eye on your dog. Social walks can be social for you too of course, so please do chat to the other dog owners, but make sure your dog is always comfortable and not too close to other people or dogs.
- Keep an eye on other people’s dogs too! Don’t let your dog approach another dog that looks nervous or worried, or who doesn’t have space to move away. Check with the other dog’s owner before allowing your dog to approach.
- Please do listen to me. I may need to impart important information quickly (if an off-lead dog is approaching/dogs are getting too close and one or both are not comfortable for example), and if people are chatting and not paying attention, problems can arise!
- Social walks are much more tiring for dogs than we realise- even when we don’t see it, they are constantly communicating with each other, assessing the environment and sniffing. If you feel your dog has had enough, please feel free to let me know and to head off early. This is particularly true in the case of fearful or reactive dogs. It is always better to leave too soon and on a high note than to push it and have a set-back.
- If your dog reacts to another dog, or gets over-excited, remember that they will have a lot of stress hormones in their bodies for the rest of the day which will make them much quicker to react next time. Provide extra space for the rest of the walk, or if you think it best, leave early.
If you have not worked with me previously, but would like to be involved in the social walks, please get in touch to book a quick evaluation session to ensure that social walks are the right thing for your dog.
“Alvin had been in the rescue centre for over two months as a stray.Within the first week of having him home he became really aggressive with all dogs, he barked constantly at home, he barked and growled at small children, elderly people, buses, cats, squirrels, car doors shutting 3 streets away….sometimes I was close to tears and would scream at him to stop. Then he’d cower and I would feel guilty. The problem was we didn’t know anything about his history.We struggled on for 6 months, I could barely bring myself to take him for a walk, everytime I saw a dog I ended up picking him up to stop him getting to other dogs and he scratched me and barked in my face…
We took Alvin for his first [social walk] class … it was also the first time I had ever seen him sniff a dog’s bum. It was my proudest moment since we took him home!We found that taking him to the classes made the biggest change in him.He started wagging his tail outside after the classes and shows genuine interest in dogs when he’s out walking now.“
Sam, Ray and Alvin (see full testimonial here)