In this seminar hosted by Noble Canine, "Dog Pack Walks & Poor Handling of Dogs in the Industry," Fraser, the Head Canine Behaviour Specialist, led a comprehensive discussion on the intricacies of pack walks and their impact on our four-legged friends.
Fraser opened the session by shedding light on the origins of pack walks, initially designed to mimic the natural movement patterns of wild canines. He pointed out that while the idea is to offer socialisation and exercise, the reality may fall short due to domestication, breed differences, and a misunderstanding of canine social structures.
Highlighting the significant flaws in the logic of natural pack walks, Fraser noted that domestic dogs might not share the same social instincts as their wild counterparts. He emphasised that pack walks could induce stress and anxiety, especially for dogs with a history of reactivity or aggression. He also cautioned against unnatural social interactions when unfamiliar dogs are forced together, which can lead to stressful encounters.
Fraser continued by outlining the prerequisites for a successful group walk, such as assessing each dog's temperament and behavior, ensuring proper socialisation, and managing group size and compatibility. He provided guidelines on conducting appropriate group walks, ensuring each dog's comfort and safety, and suggested post-walk follow-up practices.
Delving into the psychological impacts, Fraser described how poorly executed pack walks could increase anxiety, induce aggression, cause fear and trauma, and even lead to behavioural regression. He also warned of learned helplessness and the deterioration of social skills that can result from chaotic group walks.
Fraser then turned the discussion towards the darker side of the industry, where organisations may prioritise reputation over animal welfare. He detailed the damaging effects of force and intimidation in training, from eroding trust to causing long-term psychological trauma.
In the penultimate segment, Fraser offered advice on identifying red flags when choosing pet care professionals. He advocated for seeking those who prioritise animal welfare and possess credible training and experience. He encouraged skepticism towards those promising quick fixes, using aversive training methods, or showing a lack of transparency.
The seminar concluded with a call to action, urging the community to advocate for humane, science-based practices and support professionals who maintain high standards of care.
Fraser's expertise and passion illuminated the complexities of canine behavior and the importance of compassionate care, leaving attendees equipped with knowledge to better advocate for their canine companions.