Updated: Jan 19, 2019
We all know what it is about Alaska that makes it special for those of us who live here. Some of the reasons we love Alaska are of a personal nature, and many more reasons we share together as a common thread, where our heart is. Nature. Mountains. Trials. Wildlife! It is so amazing here in Alaska. Anchorage is a special place for a metropolitan area. We who live here are proud of our trails in and throughout town. As well as all along the hillside of the Chugach mountain range surrounding Anchorage. Safe to say our visiting tourists and guests love them too. We have multi-use trails for hiking, running, snowshoeing, biking, cross country skiing, snow machining, horse-back riding, and dog walking. Anchorage is a great place for people with dogs! There are many thousands of dogs in Anchorage. Many however, rarely get a chance to run and play off leash. Off leash dog walking is not a simple task.
With a plethora of trails and parks to choose from, an off leash dog adventurer needs only to pick and choose. And that can be the hardest part! When preparing an off leash adventure it would be wise to determine the abilities of each dog and know what to expect from them. Have a good connection with each dog. Know their mood, their state of mind. They should be happy and excited and ready to play! They should be attentive. They know what is happening. They know when we are on our way out to the woods to play with other dogs and run and explore. This is what dogs crave. Oh, and treats. Give them constant praise for being such good dogs. Touch them. Know what they feel like to the touch. Notice if they are anxious about being in cars or being in close quarters with other dogs. Just notice, and be aware of them all. That awareness aids the management process of the off leash adventure.
Dogs are keenly aware of us. Every move we make, every breath we take gives signals to the dog about how they should think and feel. Dogs are also aware of all the other dogs, and all the other smells, and it seems like sensory overload at times! And indeed it may be. Dogs get stressed. They may get confused and scared. Many different scenarios can happen and its the handlers job to show them we know what they are going through and that we are confident, kind and strong enough to be their leader. And they will follow. They want to be in the pack. This is a little family connecting with nature and our wild instincts. As we walk down the trail the dogs are running all over smelling everything and investigating. If I stop, they stop and wait for me for a few seconds then come back to look me in the face for a sign of what I am thinking. This is the adventure! What will happen next? Will we run or just walk? Will we take the trail to the right or the one that goes up? As the adventure goes on so does the bonding of dogs and handler.
Back to the car after a good hour of adventuring, all dogs get a high-value reward for getting in the car. "Good dogs" I always say as I hand out treats. And they are happy. They are content. They are tired and ready to go back home!