No doubt that you’ve heard of the ‘slow food movement’ for people who want to enjoy local food in a slow paced way. There is also a ‘slow travel movement.’ People stop and appreciate each moment of their journey. Both ideas are metaphors for life. They are examples of how people are beginning to live for quality and not quantity. Slowing down in everything they do from eating, to travelling to caring for their dogs….excuse me?
I am inviting you to join me in The Slow Dog Movement. A community of like-minded people who strive for a healthier lifestyle for their dogs. Explore relaxation, brainwork, slow walks and enrichment for dogs and more. This blog is about applying the human idea of a slower and more gratifying life, to the lives of our dogs. #slowdogmovement.
‘But my dog is already slow!’ ‘I can’t even get him to walk around the neighbourhood without sniffing every damn leaf and rock!’ That’s fabulous! You’re already ahead in the ‘slow’ game.
If you watch dog owners manoeuvre their dogs to co-exist in a human world, it’s often quite fast paced. Neither the dogs or their owners are enjoying the daily drag down the street during the human’s lunch break.
Dogs use all their senses and are most driven, no surprise, by their sense of smell. They also use their tongue (licking dog urine off of a pavement) to amplify smell. Humans can see nothing of interest on a lamp post. But to a dog, that metallic surface holds infinite layers of scent history.
Walking at a slow pace, a dog’s pace, (you may have to teach your dog to walk slower – it’s possible, I did it with a Jack Russell!) for 400 metres is way more beneficial than steaming along for 1 mile with only occasional sniffs. Dogs should mostly walk, not trot.
Dogs become both relaxed and stimulated when they sniff. They use their brain and their body.
I would suggest using a well fitted harness with your dog and at least a 3-5 metre leash. Make the leash ‘smile’ when you walk your dog – make sure it stays loose rather than taut.
Choose interesting places to walk with your dog, not only around the neighbourhood. If you don’t have time to go somewhere else, challenge yourself to go as slow as possible! Try new places! Industrial estates, bicycle and hardware shops, are very interesting to your canine friend. Try one new place a week. Try to focus on your dog and his or her pace, not on the end result of getting the walk completed.
Cristina and Aurélien Budzinski, recently published a study of dog heart rates. At the Heart of the Walk, found that walking on a long, loose leash or no leash lowers dog’s pulse. Over time, this lowers your dog’s stress levels. Although it may not feel like you are doing a ‘classic’ dog activity, like throwing a ball, it is much better for your dog.
Stay tuned to The Slow Dog Movement blog for more ideas. Join me in creating a sea change – an evolution revolution for dogs. Where ‘less is more’ and seeing things from a dog’s point of view makes life easier for you too!
- Bekoff, M. & Pierce, J., Unleashing Your Dog: A Field Guide to Giving Your Canine Companion The Best Life Possible, New World Library, 2019, Print.
- Clayton, Pennie, ‘The Science of Enrichment,’Dog Edition, June 2019, 20-24, Print.
- Kvam, Anne Lill, The Canine Kingdom of Scent: Fun Activities Using Your Dog’s Natural Instincts, Dogwise Publishing, Washington USA, 2012, Print
- Lecture materials from International Dog Training Education, Turid Rugaas et al, Bad Wimpfen, Germany 2014-2015
- Kirsty Grant, The Dog Nose, interviews, 30/01/2019 & 17/05/2019
Written by Laura Dobb of Slow Dog Movement.