Taking the dog for a walk
Sigga Rasmussen (intern)
For most people, walking a well-trained dog does not seem to be the most complicated job in the world. You put the leash on the dog, you go out the door and then you simply start walking. As an intern at the WSC, you have the chance of walking the very well-trained WSC pack dogs. When I arrived here three months ago, I was thrilled to learn that I had this opportunity. Walking the pack dogs would allow me to get closer contact with them and, in addition, it would help me not to miss my own dog too much. So, it was probably just a matter of finding out where they kept the collars and the leashes and then start walking some dogs, right?
Wrong! Because one does not simply walk a WSC dog. As the dogs are kept, more or less, under the same conditions as the wolves of the WSC, the way we interact with them must be consistent. This means that there are rules about how you let a dog out of its’ enclosure, how you put the collar on, and how you hold (the very long) leash. Once you have been introduced to all the rules on just getting the dog ready for the walk, you will then learn how to do the walk. Because here you must also do things in a very certain way. First, you must learn the cues that the dogs already know, so that you can ask them to sit, lay down or come to you as needed. Then, you must also learn what not to do. At the WSC the dogs are not dominated by people. This means that if the dogs want to dig, sniff or even roll around in feces, you let them. Basically, you must learn how to let the dogs be dogs.
To guide you through each of these steps, the animal trainers of the WSC are there to help, supervise and give advice. Through this process, you get an exciting view of the training of the dogs and, as well, the behavior of yourself. And once you have ended the training, you may take the dogs for a walk in the park – while enjoying every step of it.