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Why Group Hikes?
Group hikes are an ideal way to provide your dog with exercise and k9 socialization, both of which are essential key contributors to a healthy, happy and balanced dog. 
 
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Spot's Blog #1 - Why Group Hikes??

Welcome to Spot’s very first blog – a blog about dogs, their communication methods and skills, training, k9 etiquette, activities, jobs for dogs, rescue and everything in between!  There are many things I would like to discuss and I hope you will join the conversation to learn, teach, share and experience the beautiful world of canines and the special bond we share with them.

With a never ending pool of interesting topics on all things Dog, it was difficult to decide and settle on a topic for Spot’s first blog.   Do we discuss the many reasons cities should ban breeding and selling dogs in pet stores; particularly with the recent seizures in Langley of 66 dogs, cats, puppies and kittens from one of the cruelest and unethical breeders who have come to light on the 6:00 news.  I’ve said it once, I’ll say it a thousand more times… when we stop selling dogs and cat in pet stores and make it mandatory to spay and neuter our dogs with the exception of breeding studs and bitches in LICENSED and monitored breeding facilities, we will continue to fight this unnecessary uphill battle.  But that is a blog for another day…

Do we discuss training and trainers?  Or should we begin with something on nutrition?  Ultimately, I think the following is a good subject for Spot’s first Blog.  Here, I will tackle the question and statement I heard countless times in the very early years of See Spot Run!! Canine Services; “Why do people hire dog walkers?  Don’t people get dogs so THEY can spend time with them?  If they can’t exercise their dog, they shouldn’t get a dog at all”.

I grew up in the 70’s in North Vancouver, and I hate to say it, but those days, the way to exercise your dog was to open the front door and let them rip.  We lived at the top of Lonsdale, and our dog would go on his own adventure, walking and running more than 3 kilometers to the North Vancouver Dog Hangout, Grand Boulevard.   The local dog catcher would round up the dogs, take them to the pound and notify the owners of the dogs who were licenced or had some form of contact info.  My parents would bale out our dog and repeat this insanity until they eventually got tired of paying his jail bonds and gave him up to get adopted out at the pound (hopefully).  I cringe whenever I think of this, but this was the reality for so many dog owners back then.

Today, thankfully, we know that this practice is NOT responsible k9 care, yet dogs need physical exercise which, most often, includes running off leash in a safe environment or playing with another dog or human.   Our work and family commitments can limit time to spend with our dogs and give them that critical exercise and canine socialization he needs.  A lack exercise and socialization can create an array of behavioural problems which, sadly, unknowing humans blame on the dog’s bad personality; when the reality is, the dog is reacting to the environment and routine their human has put them in.

So what can folks do when they are at work and the kids are at school, and Spot is left alone for 7+ hours?  Of course many dogs are fine to be left alone at home, they are adult, house trained and can easily hold it, and most of all, they are comfortable in their own skin to just hang out and snooze or watch the world go by from a window until his family comes home.   His family likely has time to exercise him before or after work or school, and that routine is just fine for all.  But what about those dogs that are not ok left alone?  We now understand that we should never leave a puppy or dog in a crate or small confined space for longer than 4 hours.  Beyond 4 hours will create stress, separation anxiety and frankly, is just plain cruel. How would we like to be in a box for 8 hours in a day?  Our dogs are no different!   What do we do with our dogs who are not yet socialized with other canines, pups who have excess energy to expel, dogs who are chewing up the house and contents due to frustration of being alone and not exercised, or those who need to learn some proper k9 manners or could use a pee break and exercise during the day? Group hikes are an ideal way to address all of these issues, and more. 


Group hikes provide not only essential exercise, but also canine socialization which is so important for a balanced dog.  Dogs are pack animals, which means that they need to be with and learn from their humans AND other dogs.  Alessandro and I have been fostering and rehabilitating dogs for more than 8 years, and our greatest asset in achieving success with these dogs is being able to expose our fosters to multiple dogs in various scenarios, and this helps them work through their issues.  Dogs learn as much, if not more, from their fellow canines as our children do from their family, teachers, friends, extended family etc.  It takes a village and dogs are no exception.  They need to learn from their canine counterparts so they will have good manners when they meet fellow pooches and humans alike.   When meeting a new dog for the first time, a proper greeting is a butt sniff, NOT a face to face introduction!  A face to face intro can be deemed as a threat by one or both dogs which can lead to an altercation.  A proper butt or crotch sniff, however, is the equivalent to a polite hand shake, and is how a (balanced) mother dog would teach her pups to introduce themselves.   Every position of a dogs ears, tail, eyes, and body communicates a different message, and just as we need other people to converse with when learning to speak, our dogs need the same – someone to teach them and practise their language skills with.   We all know that with good communication skills, our relationships improve, our dogs are no exception to this rule. Wouldn’t you love to know what your dog is saying to you?  You can!  I recommend the book “Canine Body Language” by Brenda Aloff.      This humorous,   easy to read pictorial k9 dictionary is essential for anyone who works with or lives with dogs.  Brenda Aloff deciphers typical canine body language for you, so you will understand what your dog’s eyes, ears and tail are all saying, and your dog can only learn this language from another dog.  While much of it is hardwired, it still takes practise and every dog deserves the joy of playing, exploring and hanging out with one or six of his own. 

Lastly, I would like to address the statement, “Don’t people get dogs so THEY can spend time with them?  If they can’t exercise their dog, they shouldn’t get a dog at all”.   I can tell you that nothing can be further from the truth!  We live in a world that consumes our time, so if a dogs’ family hires a dog walker or a daycare to help meet their dogs exercise and socialization needs, bravo to them!  Some people do not have the time, physical stamina or ability to meet their dogs energy level for a variety of reasons, but will hire a professional who can, and then enjoy a night on the couch with their pup snuggled beside them, relaxing after a hard day.  Should these families not adopt a dog?  Of course they should!  They are providing a loving home AND meeting all of their their dog’s needs.  Our k9 clients wait for Alessandro to arrive, because this is THEIR adventure with 5 of their k9 friends and a pack leader they love and respect.  It sounds like a pretty win/win situation to me! 

I want to say that I haven’t heard this attitude for years now… but I’m sure it’s still out there.  I hope this clarifies the huge amount of love and dedication families bestow upon their dogs by hiring a dog walker to help bring out the best in their dog.  Exercise, socialization and training are all essential for a dogs wellbeing and success in his home, and it is an honour for Alessandro and myself to help provide this to these dogs for these amazing people who have such awesome dogs.