Take your time – even when dog walking.

I always feel an urge to get to where I’m going. Even when I’m not in a rush. There are times when I am walking my dogs that I do need to rush. If I’m walking them before work and didn’t give myself enough time to saunter. If I took them out for a quick walk between meetings. What about the times when I really have no reason to rush, but I am still in “get this walk done mode”?

Part of the reason I have become a speedy dog walker is that my dogs can be reactive on leash. I have a 10 year old shih-tzu named Barley and an 11 year old mini schnauzer named Miggy (short for Miigwetch). They are both good dogs, and have had training, but for various reasons can bark incessantly at other dogs. One of the ways I’ve managed it, is by keeping my distance from other dogs while walking them. Hence, I’m always on the lookout for potential triggers. Off leashers. Big, fluffy dogs (they seem to hate big, fluffy dogs). Being on constant lookout, isn’t helpful for the dogs either, because they can probably sense my anxiety. I have learned enough about dog behaviour to know this is only going to make them more reactive.

A cute picture of Barley, the grey shih-tzu, lounging on the grey couch.

We have a new dog walker who walks Miggy and Barley once a week. She oozes calm. She doesn’t have to fake it. I can see how calm they are with her. They aren’t perfect but they definitely have a different vibe with her. Since witnessing this sense of Zen, I have been trying to mimic that calmness when I am walking them.

When I was walking them on Saturday, it was a beautiful, breezy, sunny, perfect August day. I had no where to rush.

Usually, I walk the dogs on a loop, through our local park, making detours as necessary for other dogs who may be triggers, then, to a loop through neighbourhood sidewalks. I feel I have to keep a steady pace to keep them focussed enough not to react. I’m usually hustling. This particular day, I thought, “just walk slowly and smell the roses” (or beautiful gardens they keep in the park). I let Miggy enjoy more of his back rolls than usual. I figured we could spend more time, walking slowly in the park, and not worry about making the rest of the loop.

Miggy (grey and white mini schnauzer) rolling on his back on the grass. It’s always one of his favourite things to do.

It occurred to me that it could be useful to apply this sense of ease and calm, where possible, in other areas of life. I don’t always have to be in a hurry. I don’t have to walk “like I’m in the army”, as a stranger said to me once, everywhere I go. Lately, I feel an urge for more ease and calm. I’ll see how it goes and if I can successfully slow down in some places, and if as a result, I feel the benefits during those times when I can’t slow down.

Nicole P. loves to run, walk everywhere, sweat it out in HIIT classes and practice coordination in boxing classes in the park.

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