Pet Projects

Weekend Pet Project

Montanan dogs are lucky. Of all the places I’ve lived, the Bozeman area has got to have some of the most involved, thoughtful dog-owners. Ease of access to the outdoors is one of the many reasons that this area has received such an influx in the last 15 years, and everyone seems to want a dog to share it with. Trailheads in the area are full of well-mannered canines navigating the woods off-leash. People not only walk their dogs, they GET OUT with them.

Watching Cao’s rapt enjoyment of the outdoors magnifies the beauty and keeps me walking long after I would have otherwise turned for home. The dog that is usually warming one end of the couch is steeplechasing deadfall, frenetically digging for voles, and buzzing my legs as she rushes from one new smell to the next.

It’s not always convenient to make time in your schedule for a dedicated outing, but that’s the assignment for this week: Take your dog somewhere new and let your dog dictate the length of the walk. Walk as fast or as slow as you want to, but turn off your phone (better yet, leave it at home), bring warm gear, and look around. Watch your dog. Is he panting after only a few minutes? How’s her recall? Is he checking in? When has she had enough? How can you tell?

What can this walk tell you about your dog’s level of enrichment? We all make the effort to give our dogs what they need, but how often do we (willingly) let them dictate the duration of an activity?

When you’ve completed your project, post a picture of where it took you and let us know about your observations.

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