Exercising and keeping your pet in good shape also ensures that it is well behaved
Bruno is the golden retriever I know best. The breed is meant to be mild tempered, great with kids and one of the most registered companion dogs in the world. But that is not what it’s traits were selected for.
The history of the breed is interesting. It was created by Sir Dudley Marjoribanks at his Scottish estate Guisachan in the late nineteenth century. He cross-bred Flat-coated Retrievers with Tweed Water Spaniels, with some further infusions of Red Setter, Labrador Retriever and Bloodhound. The Golden Retriever is still used as a gundog by sportsmen, both as a hunting companion in the field and for competing in field trials. It is used more for retrieval of land-based game birds such as grouse and partridge than for wildfowl hunting. Those used as gundogs are usually from working lines specifically bred for field use.
Now imagine this set of traits and we have him entertaining young visiting kids and expecting him to play the genial pupper. Genial and pupper are both correct but then the nature of the beast is a lot more than that. It is something to be acknowledged. Your favourite uncle might have carried you on his shoulders while you whipped and asked him to giddy up when young. You might still be taking limitless liberties with him but once older you also knew to respect him as a sharp businessman who took no hostages.
The same has to be recognized for Bruno, the ever smiling big hearted enthusiastic pet sitter of small babies. He was developed to be a mature partner to a hunter. It is not a weakness but a strength as I know he’d give his life for any one he loves. But we need to acknowledge his needs too.
The solution we found to his pulling on his leash, being a boisterous and general trouble maker, was to tire him out once a week. Let him be a dog and true to his nature for a few hours every weekend. The rest of the week then he would human and follow our rules of civilization.
Pre-dawn on those days I’d be woken up by hot panting in my ear. Bruno was ready before the birds to greet the world. We’d drive down to Kharghar hills at a spot suggested by Mitali, his dog trainer, general mentor and mom to Eli, his nemesis as Bruno does not like the idea of sharing his women. At the base of the hills I’d take Bruno off leash and he’d shoot off. Not to be seen for a couple of minutes. I always worried at these moments only to see a thrilled boy at the top of the steps urging me to hurry up. I’d rush as quickly as my arthritic legs would carry me and then it was a hike for more than two hours.
Despite the acute pain, I’ll still confess that they were the best hours of my week. In the light of the early morning, Bruno would chase birds and squirrels, shoot off after stray dogs and come back expecting to be reprimanded. He knew I carried biscuits and water in my knapsack and he’d run back for a quick break before going to dive nose first into bushes and trails left by other creatures. I would find a resting spot and sit down, knowing that a dog always keeps you in his peripheral vision. The minute he can’t see you, he will come back to check if you are OK. It was for me to handle my panic as the dog was quite in control of his hike.
There are many more happy memories of these hikes but the point I make today is that once Bruno got his time to dog, he was absolutely fine being the gentleman we needed him to be for the rest of the week.
When you take your pet walking, it’s not just for basic bodily functions, it is also for your pet to exercise his mind, body and nose. He needs to to sniff up messages on the nose board left by the others, know who has been wandering far from home and generally commune with his tribe. For all the love we have for our pets, we also have to let them be part of their people in order to feel whole.
A good significant walk ensures that the dog boarded up at home is not bored. Because that is when the empty mind creates general havoc. Tire your dog out and he won’t have the energy to make mischief.