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Interview with Zuzanna inspires Taiwanese to walk their dogs!

Written by Zuza on December 21, 2018

This text is a translation of the interview which Zuzanna gave to Bonjour! Bubble BooBoo
when being in Taiwan in November 2018 where she took a TTouch Practitioner course. 
The interview has met with a very favorable reception and received over 100 shares on Facebook.

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Bonjour!Bubble BooBoo: I met Zuza from Denmark when doing my TTouch Practitioner course in Taiwan.

Zuza is a professional dog walker in Denmark. She also owns a pet sitting company there. I am always curious about how people from other countries see and treat dogs. Hence I could not miss the chance to talk with her. Below is a short message I gathered from the content of our conversation- I found it a great inspiration for Taiwanese to change their approach to dogs (of course, I don’t want to generalize).

Q : Can you tell us more about your job?

A : I work as a dog walker and dog behaviorist in Denmark. There are quite many people doing what I do but not many of them are qualified or do it full-time as I do. Dogs are my life and I’m with them and learn about them every day. Some dog walkers bring 6-8 dogs out at once; but for the safety of dogs and quality of the walk, I bring only one dog or two dogs at a time. I like to offer the individual approach.

Q: How often do people walk their dogs in Denmark and in Poland?

A: Dogs in Denmark and Poland go out at least three times a day. Dogs from those families that have a yard will go out at least once a day to go sniffing around. My clients come from America, England and other countries, and they definitely let dogs go out everyday. And this includes the old dogs that move with difficulties. So I was very surprised when I found out that some dogs in Taiwan do not go out on a daily basis and some even only once a month! I was truly shocked when I discovered that.

 

Q :How much time do people spend walking their dogs?

A: Around 15 minutes in the morning as they ‘re in a hurry before work, the next two times are usually about 20-30 minutes. Some will also walk there dogs once more before bed. That’s the routine I observed.

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Q : Where do the dogs normally come from? Do people buy dogs?

A : In Denmark people often buy dogs from the breeder. A good breeder will ask a lot of questions and get contact information from the family and  also allow to see a mother. Dogs should also live in a home environment, not outside kennel. When it comes to Poland- many people rescue dogs from shelters and organizations. There are much more mixed breeds to be met in Poland than in Denmark. It’s also not allowed anymore to sell puppies in pet stores and I’ve had a hard time to see so many stores here still doing it.

Q : Do dogs get abandoned?

A : Unfortunately yes. Like people leaving their dogs in the woods or dumping them outside the city. But there are many people who will look for a new home for their dog if for some reason they can’t keep it anymore. It’s very very sad but some people get rid of their dogs simply because they’re going on vacation. So summer period is very tough in Poland in terms of number of animals literally being thrown out like some garbage.

Q : What about cats? How do people approach them?

A : Many say that cats are independent animals that do not need to be taken care of so much but this is a big misconception. Cats do need social interaction and companionship. In Denmark and Poland, if a family is planning a vacation, it would usually find somebody to come visit the cat every day or at least every other day. Some people leave their cats alone for longer but I don’t think it’s good for the cat.

Q : How do people handle dogs with aggression issue in these two countries?

A : Sadly, they often choose euthanasia and don’t even seek professional help. Many people when their dog starts to growl or bark at them, they perceive it as ”dominant” and begin to punish it for that. It’s such a misunderstanding between what the dog communicates and how the person interprets it and reacts to it. Punishment always leads to escalation of the problem so I never recommend it. On my sessions I teach people the proper approach which is positive and which takes into consideration all the underlying causes of the behavior.  There is always some reason behind every behavior and it’s never dominance which doesn’t occur in dogs’ interactions and which is the biggest myth in dog training world.

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Q : What kind of place do you normally choose to walk dogs? What is your opinion on dog parks?

A : Parks, wide streets are all good options. There are not many dog parks where I walk dogs but I wouldn’t go there anyway. Unfortunately there are usually too many irresponsible owners who just let their dogs off the leash and don’t pay attention to them. They also don’t know what signals to look for in order to know when to stop the play before the high excitement level will break into a dog fight. Too many uncontrolled emotions in dogs, even those seemingly positive once, can lead to a disaster.

Q : What are your suggestions in terms of playing with dogs?

A : I suggest that you control the level of your dog’s excitement. We, people tend to simply overdo playing with our dogs and forget how important it is to give them time to relax and recharge. Too much playing fetch, frisbee or other excitable and repetitive games lead to increase of adrenaline level in the dog’s body what then can make the dog prone to being reactive, nervous, noise sensitive etc. Especially if your dog already shows signs of obsession over balls, you should stop playing them as soon as possible and replace them with sniffing games and nose work which are all calm and much better for the dog.

Q : Do you have any other suggestions?

A : People should walk their dogs on a daily basis and change the routes to make it more stimulating and interesting for a dog, stop trying to control everything their dog does and give it more freedom in making its own decisions, learn the body language of dogs (knowing ”calming signals” dogs use in their communication is just essential). They should also focus more on the dog’s needs instead of teaching it another command which is not the most important thing to do when talking about a good relationship with a dog.

***

I am so happy to get a chance to chat with a friend that shares the same mentality.
I would like to thank Zuza for sharing her observations and expertise – Taiwanese can learn so much from that!

Those that live in Taiwan- we should try harder to be better dog owners. We have to consider how much time we can give to a dog before getting one. Good quality walks and diet, giving the opportunity to sniff around different places and providing mental stimulation- it all matters when talking about dog’s well-being. When fulfilling those needs, living with dogs can become enjoyable without all those behavioral issues many dogs in Taiwan suffer from. Respect dogs, learn to understand them and, as Zuza says- become your dog’s best friend instead of just expecting it to be one to you.

Visit Bonjour! Bubble BooBoo for the original interview.

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If you don’t have the time to walk your dog as frequently as you should, then you can always ask a professional dog walker to walk it for you. If you live in Copenhagen and surrounding area, check out the dog walking services offered by Studio High Paw Studio Pet Sitting here.