Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Argentinian Hounds

I visited Buenos Aires, Argentina for the first time in December 2008. The food was amazing and we loved the people and the European feel of the caf├ęs. But what struck me the most in Buenos Aires were the dog walkers. While sightseeing in the city, I saw many dog walkers walking up to ten dogs at a time! And what was even more amazing was that the dogs were all perfectly calm, no matter what they saw around them! Not one of them was pulling on the leash.

As a dog trainer in Hawaii, I meet many troubled dog owners who get walked by their dogs instead of them walking their dogs. Pulling on the leash and over-excitement are pretty common issues with dogs in the United States. How was it possible that the Buenos Aires dogs were so calm? I could be completely wrong but my theory is:

1. The dogs in Buenos Aires get out of the house and get walked more than their American counterparts.
2. They get to be around other dogs more often so it's not such a novelty to see another dog.
3. Argentinians treat their dogs like dogs, and they don't reinforce the dogs' excited behavior with attention.

Below: A makeshift dog park in the city center.

There were a lot of stray dogs in Ushuaia, the southernmost town in Argentina. What was interesting about the stray dogs there was that they all had long hair. Most stray dogs I've seen in Hawaii are short haired. I don't know if it's a case of "survival of the fittest," where long-haired dogs are more likely to survive in the cold climate of Ushuaia, or if there are more long-haired pet dogs over there in general, and therefore more long-haired strays.

Below: Stray dogs of Ushuaia.

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