The cost of over engaging with my dogs

I’m guilty. Both of my dogs have been over engaged. Patrick especiallyand then Bernie followed. They are so focused on my interaction with them on walks and hikes that they are losing the joy of exploration. Patrick is deaf. Deaf dogs are called Velcro dogs because they over attach right away.
Patrick showed me early on that he had a love for big rubber balls and that is how we bonded the first few months Well now eight years later….
Patrick is fixated on the possibility that I might tug and throw his green rubber ball – he often has blinders on to the beautiful world around him. (unless it’s other people he adores, then he wants to bring the rubber ball to them!)
Bernie is so emotionally attached to me that all of her joy comes from play with me. I am her everything so our time together on walks is often about checking in every few seconds, tugging on some thing ,and instigating play.

Now don’t get me wrong this has benefits – my dogs are natural followers. I rarely had an off leash reliability problem. They are quite compliant when it comes to commands and they truly truly see me asleader so when I say NO – they listen and stop what they’re doing.

So this strongly bonded relationship is rich with love and devotion. We are a unit of 3. We go everywhere together. We do almost everything together and there is safety and connection in all that we do.

I should have ignored them a bit more on walks and hikes. I should not have catered to their every need for acknowledgment and play. This is the one area of weakness for me. I honestly think I project stuff onto them. When they look at me and ask for play – it’s like a little girl in me says- “acknowledge me , tell me I am special”

It’s never too late to change. Yes, My Habits are ingrained. Yet on my next hike , I’m not going tobring out the big green rubber ball. I’m not going to bring out a tug toy. I’m not going bring treats.
Instead I’m going to remain quiet and present to nature.