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DOG WALKER


The Dartmouth Dog Walker


WITH LesLeY sCOBLe-AsH OF DOGGLeTs Signs your dog is happy, or not I


realised early in my dog-walking career (an amaz- ing two years ago! Is it really that long?!) that I would have to learn to read the behaviour of my canine charges to allow me to relax and enjoy my time with them. I’ve always loved animals and have tried to understand why they act in the way they do, and as a dog walker I’ve got a real practical need to do so. The world that opens up to you is an amazing one.


It’s one of strong emotions, clear social rules and real joy when a dog finds a place in a social group. Everyone knows that a dog wagging its tail is


happy – but this doesn’t apply in all circumstances. Slow wagging might mean that the dog is concentrat- ing, or wagging more to one side might mean they are a little unsure. A tail that is wagging very low might indicate fear


or worry – and a tail under the body is a clear sign of unhappiness. But a dog with a fast wagging tail, head up and ears pricked is almost definitely cock-a-hoop about something. A dog that is repeatedly licking its nose or yawning


may be nervous and unsure about another dog or the position it finds itself in – try licking you lips or yawning back at them to reassure them. This last bit of information has been more useful to me than any other: it’s a subtle sign that could be easy to miss, but it means that I can spot when a dog is unsure and reassure them. This is especially impor- tant when introducing a new dog to a group: I can be aware what dogs make them nervous and can step in as ‘pack leader’ to reassure them and let the other dogs in the pack know that I want them accepted. If a dog shows their teeth, do look twice, they might not be aggressive: if the dog is showing ALL their teeth and isn’t wrinkling their nose they may be anxious or wanting to show submission – it’s known as the ‘submission grin’. Look at the rest of their pos- ture: if they are showing submissive body language whilst showing their teeth they are probably worried. i find the way dogs communicate with each other


and people absolutely fascinating – and it helps me to keep better control and have fun with the dogs in my care.


A Dog’s Tale… Name: Lily and Lullah


What kind of dog am I? Lily: I’m a white whippet. Lullah: I’m a blond lurcher


Age: 9 and 2


Human family (Owners): Tim Hailstone and Jenny Haley of The Castle Tea Rooms.


Where do I come from? Lily: I don’t know where I come from, as I was a rescue dog. Lullah: My parents are a black greyhound and a scottish Bearded Collie. That means I always wants to play which I think can be really quite annoying to my human family when they’ve just settled comfortably on the sofa.


Lily


What five words/phrases best describe me? Lily: I’m dainty (though I do like to roll in poo) quiet, gentle, affection seeker. Mum says I’m certainly not an ‘einstein of the dog world’ (what- ever that means) and she says I should be called “catdog”. Lullah: Mum says I am a cartoon dog: Noisy, fun, a big baby, mischievous and clever.


Favourite Walk: Lily: For Lullah it’s anything that has water so she can swim. I get a bit fed up waiting around whilst she’s training our owners to throw balls and sticks for her. I love being in a place where I can chase squirrels. We both like Bantham Beach as I like being in the soft sand and Lullah can chase balls and swim and chase balls and swim and….


Favourite things: Lullah: Lily has a favourite armchair at the Green Dragon in stoke Fleming and really gets quite miffed if anybody else sits on it. I have a long yellow duck and a big fat pheasant that I play with – although occasionally I will also play with a shoe or a slipper. Lily likes playing with them too but we always seem to want to play with the same toy....


Anything I don’t like: Lily: I hate the rain and Lullah doesn’t really like the fact that she hasn’t got her own special chair at the Green Dragon!


Lullah 77


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