Regular readers know that Ed and I are both big proponents of leash laws and keeping your dog under your control. However, this doesn’t mean that you never let your dog do what he or she wants to do within your circle of guidance.
Off leash on a dog-friendly beach like this one in Provincetown Harbor is just one way you can let your dog lead the way. But only if your dog plays well with others and will reliably return to you when called.
Some days our Poppy doesn’t want to walk along our usual route. She wants to see and smell something new. Even as a young pup, she loved to follow her nose. Sometimes we let her lead the way. She has a change of scene, and so do we.
Ed is an extremely patient person and is much better at this than I am. Our dogs have all enjoyed long, leisurely walks where he has allowed them to decide which way to turn at every corner or which direction to take at the start of a beach walk.
Once, in Provincetown, he was following along as our first Westie Sassy took him down the beach to Truro because she just wanted to keep going. When he walks Poppy alone, I’ll often get a report of where she wanted to go and what they saw along the way.
Paying attention to what your dog is trying to communicate can be smart. As summer temperatures rise, your dog may try to turn for home as a way of telling you he’s hot, tired, and doesn’t want to be outside any longer. Or, he might pull to reach a puddle or water supply as a way of telling you he’s thirsty. Paying attention and occasionally letting the dog lead can be a good thing for both of you.
Words: Penny Cherubino (adapted from one of her City Paws newspaper columns)
Photos: ©2015 Penny Cherubino