Walk The Dog

KaidiPhotographyKaren September of Happy Dog MC is a certified dog behaviourist who has worked in the Monaco area for more than seven years.  On Sunday, 22 November Karen will be lead a free seminar called “Mastering the Walk”.  It will be held from 10am-12Noon at 1642-1932 Route de la Turbie, in Cap-d’Ail.  To sign up or get more information about the seminar, visit Happy Dog MC on Facebook.

Monaco Paws spent some time with Karen to find out what it takes to be the leader of the pack.

What got you interested in dog training?
I grew up on a farm in Australia and we always had dogs and horses. We bred Bull Terriers and Blue Heelers.  I’ve been around dogs all my life.

Have you found that dogs in Monaco have any special issues?
Monaco is so small with a huge concentration of dogs so it’s important that dogs learn correct social behaviour. But the problem is that living in small apartments dogs don’t always get enough exercise.  This can result in barking, aggression, anxiety and bad lead manners.

What is the most important lesson that owners need to learn?
It is really important for owners to set rules, boundaries and limitations in the home and outside. I find that owners often humanize their dogs to the point that the dog becomes confused. Dogs are pack animals and need a strong pack leader.

What should owners do if they are having problems with their dog’s behaviour?
Bad behaviour is a cry for help. The first thing is to look at the daily routine. Exercise is essential, dogs are travelers, they love to move and explore and if they don’t get enough exercise (a garden is no substitute for walking out) they become frustrated and bored.

How much exercise does an average dog need?
I recommend at least a 30-45 minute walk, 2 times per day.

Why is walking, especially on the lead, so important?
Correct lead manners where the dog walks respectfully next to, or behind their owner, is the foundation for teaching the dog you are his pack leader and he is a follower. If the dog is in front he will instinctually assume a protective, leader role and this is when the problems start.

How does the human become the pack leader?
It’s all about energy.  Dogs rely on their instincts, not conversation. If you project a calm, assertive energy your dog will relax and respond with calm, submissive energy and look to you for direction in all situations.

So, the training is both for the dog and the owner?

Yes, definitely.  Dogs and humans have a deep connection that goes back 20,000 years. However, you can’t be a friend to your dog without first establishing a leadership role. I am not saying that giving love and affection is wrong, but it must be given at the right times.

Besides lead training, how else do you help dog owners?

I can help in lots of ways.  I love to help people adopt a dog or choose a new puppy.  I can help socialize a dog to a new baby or a change of circumstances.  I also specialise in working with dogs that are overly aggressive or have anxiety problems.

Do you think its possible to teach an old dog new tricks?

Age has no bearing whatsoever.  It’s never too late for a dog to learn to be calm, balanced and happy.