Friday, June 23, 2006

How Garbage Walks Solidify a Pack Structure

I've been doing a lot of research lately on Cesar Millan and his philosphies on living with dogs and dog training.

Some of it I agree with, some of it I think he talks about about just so that he can flap his gums and some of it I do not agree with. I am not in favour of the "flooding" method of dog training - where you teach a dog to get over his fear of something by exposing it to him 1000% and then making him deal with it like that so he has to get over with it or die on the spot. It doesn't work with humans, and I know it wouldn't work with any of the dogs I've met in my life. It's the same thing as making a kid smoke 2 packs of cigarettes when you've caught him smoking for the first time. Sure he's probably going to throw up - but it doesn't deal with any of the underlying reasons WHY he was smoking the cigarettes in the first place (peer pressure, thinks it's cool, piss his parents off, etc.) - it's the same thing with flooding. Dragging a great dane onto the middle of a shiny floor when he's terrified of shiny floors and making him "just deal with it" - is not the way to go. But that's not why I'm writing this post!

One of his other big things is proper exercise - he exercises the dogs in his care 4 hours a day - which just about NO one else can do - but he also says that classical dog parks are no good because dogs just wrestle and dogs need to feel like they're going on a hunt with their pack leader every day. So it's really important to WALK your dog.

Well I'd like to submit that my garbage walks and my going for walks in other people's neighbourhoods in general are the perfect example of going "hunting" with your dogs. And the prey is other people's garbage. Me - I just surf the top layer - and I hardly ever take anything anymore. Last Sunday when we went for our garbage walk we walked for so long that by the time we got back to the car I was too tired to go back and pick anything up. The picture above is a little wicker basket (a garbage can actually) I picked up just on my own street last night when I had Charlie out. It was a gross white and I just painted it up tonight and now it's perfect.

But I think there are extra benefits to going for garbage walks above and beyond finding urban archeological treasures - you will also be solidifying your pack structure - if you believe what Cesar Millan teaches. He believes that dogs need exercise where they move forward with their pack leader - not just moving around in circles or wrestling and playing - or even chasing a ball with a chuck-it or doing flyball and getting out their energy that way. They need to walk and go from A to B.

And garbage walks are perfect for that. So check out which nights are garbage nights in your town and get walking! haha!