Who walks the dog?

Over the years I have been told time and time again that the family dog does not listen to someone in the family.  It is a common occurrence if one person does it all.  The same individual does the walking, feeding, grooming, training and anything else that needs doing.  Often a dog will attach itself to that one person and forget about anyone else in the family.  Even if someone else feeds or walks the dog; they still may not listen to and/or oblige if asked to do something by anyone other than the Chief hauncho.

Years ago I had a skiing accident which pretty much put me out of commission for a good long while.  I could get around but walking the dogs was tough due to a full leg brace that I had to wear.  So my husband took over that role and their relationship flourished.  He loved them and they loved him but as he stepped into more of a leader role their relationship changed.  They all benefit from the new arrangement and the rest as they say is history.

I have always been the one who does most of the dog stuff; it's just what I do.  But having to give up being the main exerciser and walker was a good thing.  I probably wouldn't have done it if I didn't have to; so for months it was just Steve and the dogs on their outdoor adventures.

I often tell owners that the main person needs to step back.  It is not always easy to step out of the limelight as far as your dogs are concerned.  You might be the one and only but you shouldn't be.  I have watched a great relationship between my husband and dogs turn into a amazing one.  He already spent a lot of time with them and did walk them on occasion but as he took over the walking role completely, everything started to grow.

Coaching the main caregiver to step out of the picture for a couple of months takes some work.  If you turn over as much as possible to the other person; things will change, there is no other option. Being the one to feed, walk, groom and most importantly lead is huge.  Of course some things are not possible, maybe  midday walk or feeding but do what you can to wriggle into your dog's life.  It might just be taking over the exercising for a while if you already have a great relationship.  Having to lead your dog while out in public has great impact.

As for you, the main caregiver; the one who your dog's always turn to.  Do it, step back and let go for the good of your dog.  No it is not easy but watching them connect the same way that they do with you is amazing.  Our dogs love everyone in our family; but of course I am the "go to" person.  I always have been and I always will be probably.  But it is nice to know that when I have to step out that they are just as happy with at home or out in the field with Dad.