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The Essence of a Dog: A Free Education from a Free Choice Walk

loose off leash dog walk
By giving our dogs as much autonomy as we safely can, we can learn a lot about body language and social interactions from observing their behavior © Karolin Klinck

One cold day last spring, snow still clinging to the ground and ceding to the warm sun only on the tips of south-facing hillocks, I decided to do something new. I wouldn’t walk my dogs; nor would I walk with my dogs. I would instead be walked by my dogs. I decided to simply follow my dog Mischa for our whole walk. Wherever he chose to go, well, I’d go just the same.

I crawled under logs, I lumbered across frozen wetlands sinking thigh-deep into the granular spring snow, and I paused, quietly, in the lee of a large spruce tree, another secluded location where the snow had melted and the warming ground released delicious scents…

As I followed my dogs, I saw what they were paying attention to. When I saw what they paid attention to, I paid attention as well. And as I paid attention, I learned about my dogs.

(Issue 47, March 2021, pp.12-20). Read article

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