Be Present with Your Dog
As I am hiking the Colorado trails along the foothills of Ft Collins I see dogs dragging behind their owners as they are on their cell phone. Are you paying more attention to your phone then your dog on beautiful Colorado trails?
It is the weekend so you want to spend time outside and you take your dog because they have been inside all week so they want to be outside too. There are so many problems here I don’t know where to begin.
Weak Body Awareness
First problem is your dog has been inside all week, lying on the couch waiting for you to get home so they can play some ball or Frisbee. If your dog is lucky they will get a walk once a day and maybe twice a day. Physically your dog has poor core, back leg muscles, and proprioception. I talked about proprioception in ‘Proprioception, What is it’.
A weak core, hind legs, and proprioception create a weak dog when out on a hike or even jumping in the car. They have become a couch potato and now you want them to hike with you. As they maneuver over rocky terrain and hills their body is slow to respond to the movements required and they end up with a back, neck, or knee injury that now lands them in pain and your pocket book short on money. It takes a year or more for physical rehabilitation to heal the injury and then prepare them for normal life as a stronger dog.
This can all be avoided by daily exercise routine of 10 min or less in the house or on a daily walk. I talked about some basic exercise to improve core, hind leg muscles, and proprioception in ‘Canine Fitness Workout to Reduce Injury’. If you are in the Northern Colorado area you can take one of our many fitness classes for your dog.
Second problem is you are not paying attention to your dog while hiking the beautiful Rockies if you are on your phone. I see people, all the time, walking on a trail ahead of the dog as they are in pain or thirsty lagging behind. As a veterinary technician in Jackson Hole I saw many dogs die after heat stroke because their owner left them in their wake riding their bike down the hill. Please be aware and present with your dog while having fun outdoors.
Being present with your dog on a hike is a very good human animal bonding experience that will fill you both with joy in the beautiful Colorado Rockies. You are able to monitor your dog’s body awareness and movements as you hike over rocky terrain or along a river. Your dog is aware of your focus on them and is able to communicate their needs for water or a snack during lunch time. Sometimes they are just plan goofy to entertain you while you are both communicating on your walk or hike. If you catch a change in their gait or body position you can assess them and prevent an injury later.
I Hear You!
If you have not read my story on animal communication go check out “I Hear You”. A story about Tina, my best dog, that helped me recover from an illness.
Leave a comment about your best hikes with your dog and how you communicate with each other.