Walkin’ the Dog


Let’s explore the Dog Walk –

We’re starting way back in prehistory. There is archaeological evidence that we have been walking side by side, and possibly even using leashes, with our dogs for thousands of years! We can literally follow the foot (and paw) prints…

The Chauvet Cave in southern France is the most famous site for cave paintings; on its walls are hundreds of Paleolithic artworks depicting at least 13 different species. But something other than the cave paintings has captured the imagination of dog lovers. On the floor of a back chamber, there are footprints (dated to about 26,000 years ago) of a young human and a canid, perhaps a proto-dog, walking side by side for some 150 feet.

Recently, an archeological dig in Shuwaymis (a hilly region of northwestern Saudi Arabia) has discovered a scene carved into a cliff wall of what appears to be a human hunter from about 8,000 years ago with a drawn bow and thirteen dogs, some of who seem to be wearing leashes. Were these dogs in training? Are they perhaps not leashes at all but some visual representation of his connection to his dogs?

Here we all are, still walking our dogs!

Walking the Dog – Walking With the Dog – Talking a Dog Walk

Are these just different ways to say the same thing or different ways to approach time outside perambulating with our canine companions?

Walking the Dog sounds like something we have to do for the dog. There is some truth to that. Many modern dogs spend most of their lives in the house or yard, with limited areas to explore or ways to get needed exercise. Taking them out for a walk ideally allows them to stretch their legs and take in their worlds through their fantastically sensitive noses. Many behavioral problems can be solved simply by getting your dogs out and about on a regular basis.

I feel like Walking With the Dog is a step farther into their realm. Simply letting them stop and sniff gives them a freedom that so many dogs are denied.

For me, Talking a Dog Walk means letting them choose the route and set the pace. While it is nice to have a dog heel along next to you and cover a few brisk miles together, walking together can be far more mentally and emotionally fulfilling when, for a change, they lead and you follow. I marvel at the world I am in when I seek what has captured their attention and when we fall into that ancient rhythm of travelers together. The core-deep pleasure they show tracking a scent or lifting their muzzles to the breeze is a joyful lesson plan in Be Here Now!
Alexandra Horowitz explores their scent-structured world in her book “Inside of A Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know”

[Dog]-walks are often not done with the dog’s sake in mind, but strangely playing out a very human definition of a walk. We want to make good time; to keep a brisk pace; to get to the post office and back.

Dogs don’t care about “making time.” While walking with the dog’s nose in mind might alter total distance traveled, you and Bucky can bond over quality olfactory experiences. In a smell walk, Bucky might sniff as he likes, choose the direction of the walk or linger to get to the bottom of a particular smell. What else might you provide on a smell walk?

In through one nostril and out through the other…
Just how our dogs’ noses actually work is illustrated in this fascinating short video

You can even walk with your dog for a good cause!


Every spring (this year on Saturday, May 12, 2018) the Santa Cruz Volunteer Center hosts the Human Race, a dog-friendly opportunity for Santa Cruz County nonprofits, individuals, and groups to fund-raise for local programs. The Human Race has been helping nonprofits fundraiser together for over 35 years.

Do you want to raise money for your favorite shelter or rescue all year ‘round? Consider WoofTrax, an App that tracks your walks with your dog and donates 11 to 25 cents per mile, depending on the number of people who have signed up to walk in benefit of a particular animal organization.

In up-coming blogs this spring, we’ll cover: equipment for walking your dog, the heated on/off leash debate, where to find good local dog walks, more about dog’s senses, and training for your walks and on your walks.

What else about Walkin’ the Dog would you like to read about?


I am a wandering hedge-scholar. Feet in the dirt, head in the clouds, dog by my side!
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