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I Let My Dog Walk Me And I Ended Up Learning A Lot

Stop and smell the (pee-soaked) roses, once in a while.

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Hi, we’re Chelsea (human) and Hadley (dog).

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Most mornings, I (Chelsea) dictate where we go. If Hadley has gone to the bathroom and she's smelling some plants for a long time, I tend to pull her away after a few minutes. Ugh, humans, amiright? So, in honor of National Pet Day, we decided to do something different: to let her walk me.

The Rules

1. I would only go in the direction that she pulled.

2. I would try my best to keep her leash loose.

3. Obviously, I would intervene if she was pulling into a street or towards a mean dog.

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1. She listens to me way more than I thought.

My dog is walking me this AM + I'm learning she follows my cues more than I thought: been standing here for 10 mins

Hadley's a shiba inu, as you may have discerned, and shibas are notoriously stubborn. It's what I love about her, but honestly, I assume most of the time that she doesn't really pay attention to what I want. But this exercise showed me that she did! A lot of the time she seemed to be waiting for my signal of direction of where to go.

2. I felt so PROUD of her.

Chelsea Marshall

When she picked a street to go down that involved crossing an avenue, SHE STOPPED AND WAITED TO CROSS. This probably doesn't seem like a big deal to most humans with dogs, but see shiba comments above. I was so proud, I teared up.

3. Letting your dog walk you will confuse other people.

Chelsea Marshall

There were a few times Hadley just full-on stopped in front of lost tourists. There was another corner where someone thought we might be prospective dog walking clients (sorry, lady but I hope you got the job!). Hadley is a sweetheart, but she doesn't really know "social norms," and likes to smell people's calves as they walk by.

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4. She really forced me to slow down and appreciate small things.

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While I genuinely think she was confused initially, the amount that she stopped and looked around at the flowers and the people around her made me realize she was just taking it easy. She was enjoying herself and not overthinking it. I should do that more often.

5. I was calmer at work after all that slowing down.

Following Hadley's lead helped me slow down in the morning and made me feel more centered by the time I got to work. Maybe it was letting a little dog take control of my morning, maybe it was stopping to notice how nice the spring flowers are right now, maybe it was both. All I know is that I felt better.

6. Hadley knows her way home.

Chelsea Marshall

At least I think. Barring any chance I subconsciously guided her (I genuinely don't think I did but who knows? Maybe it was some ouija board shit), she got us home! I expected her to take me to Duane Reade, her favorite store ever since she saw a huge teddy bear there. But she didn't: She just took us home when she was ready to go back.

Overall, I recommend doing this for at least part of your walk, even if you don't have an endless amount of time.

Listen, I get why we can't do this every single morning. Mainly, what if she takes me an hour and a half away from my apartment?

But I really want to try and incorporate this into at least half of our normal morning walks. It's nice to sit back, relax and enjoy the flowers, pee-soaked or not.


Plus, sometimes it's good not to be in charge.

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