This thought has struck me many times over the last 7 months as I’ve been walking my now 9-month-old puppy in the morning.
Most people in my area, who are on the older side, tend to walk with their dogs as though the dog is just this thing that happens to be walking next to them.
They don’t really talk to them, they don’t really interact with them, at least as I do and I was curious if I’m just an oddball or if I’m just not getting out with my puppy quite enough.
I talk to my dog all the time. I ask him questions. for instance I’ll ask him what he smells when he stops and starts sniffing the air intently. I’ll ask him what he sees when he stares off into the distance. I’ll make suggestions for what he might have just heard. I don’t expect answers. I’m not crazy. Probably.
I’ve been known to get down on the ground next to him and see if I can figure out what has got him riveted to the dirt or lift him up in the air so I can show him something he might find interesting that he can’t normally reach.
I’m out on the adventure *with* my dog.
My dog is reactive and every walk is a training walk. I don’t talk to him conversationally outside commands or words that he knows, to minimize any confusion or ambiguity for what I’m asking of him. If you saw me walking my dog, it might seem like I’m ignoring him, but I’m actually paying extremely close attention to him at all times to gauge his feelings (is he happy, uncomfortable, distracted, etc).
If it works for you and your pup, and you’re not working through any issues, go for it. I wish I could talk to my dog more, but it’s not helpful for him or our training. I just talk to my cat instead.
I’m hoping he’ll get to something close to what we had with the last pup, a rescue who joined us at 3yo, where he literally was the perfect dog. In all the years he was with us we only had to correct him a handful of times. Otherwise he would do what we asked/told when we said and because of that he had a ton of freedom.
This is my preferred dog walking style as well. Of course we give commands when there are cars coming or if we cross the street but generally I view walks as HIS time. I’m not trying to get him to the like military precision order-following or whatever when we’re out just strolling. Figure walks are really meant for his mental/physical stimulation and for spending quality time together.
I talk to my dog all the time, too. We have some of the most inane conversations sometimes, because, well, she’s a dog and can’t do very much to hold up her end of the conversation. I can only imagine what someone clandestinely observing me and my dog hanging out together might think about me
It’s harder for serious working handler-focused dogs to do this. I chatter away to my collie all the time, but the moment a word comes out of my mouth to the border collie, he’s staring at me wanting to do something. I save my talking for when I want him to pay attention, but if I just want him to be a dog, I keep my trap shut.
I’ve started to be mindful of how much nonsense comes out of my mouth, and curb the need to say everything that comes to mind.
I talk to her when she’s getting pets(such a good girl, belly rubbbssss!), to offer a treat, to ask for potty, to go for a walk. To help with laundry, or when I’m going to vacuum. Basically all the things she’ll be involved with, sometimes whether I want her to be or not. But outside of that? No. Or at least I’m trying. Sometimes after I say something and she gets up from napping to see what’s up, I’m like, fuck. I should have just kept my mouth shut.
The last couple days I’ve even started wearing my headphones on our walks. This has helped tremendously with our loose leash and heel training as I’m not using my voice to get her to do what I want. I just stop and wait. She has to then decide for herself if she wants to go forward she needs to not pull. No words, no commands. Just waiting