Why dogs walks are for EVERY personality of dog. Case study VizslaBefore I became a dog walker, I once thought that dogs of the same breed, similar age, similar size were often quite generic in behaviour. But of course there is nothing further from the truth.
It is easy to pigeon hole something when you have only seen one or two of it. But with dogs, I am amazed how much not just their personalities show through to be different, but their energy levels and proclivities to play.
For instance the first vizsla I regularly walked was Otto. He was the nicest young puppy, full of life and curiosity and play. However as he past year one of his life, and adulthood beckoned he became more withdrawn. Then we began walking Atlas. Atlas was very similar to young Otto, but even more energy. The divergence in personality formation, was that while Otto became quieter, Atlas seemed to become more wild in his plays, but he also became more social and adjusted exactly to the level of play and size of dog he was wanting play from.
These vizslas came on our pack walks on different days so they didn't always coincide together, but you could see that as Otto preferred walking slowly with the human handlers and smaller or older dogs, Atlas picked on the biggest fastest dogs to play with - he was all about excitement.
Then one day we met a dog Diablo, another vizsla, with green collar. This dog wasn't any faster or better at play than Atlas, but his demeanour was twice as dominant. Through body language and general attitude he completely reduced Atlas into acting like Otto when he came around - standing still avoiding eye contact etc. This new dog wasn't aggressive or an issue for any dog in our pack, but the whole pack sensed it was not to be 'messed with' not to be challenged to play without potential consequences.
This new dog has these other vizsla's conned. Because his owner was nice, and the dog wasn't any fitter or faster than either of the other vizslas, but that is just how the personality of this dog formed. His pack status was more important than his need to play or engage on equal terms.
At different times on our walks Atlas plays hard with a young golden retriever and a young big bull arab- both very social dogs, but the kind of play that takes many owners breaths away. THEN Atlas will sidle up to owner for pats and hugs, not for food, but for affection. He will also coax Otto into runs on occasions, but doesn't push too hard knowing his targets disposition.
All I can say about this is from these three vizslas and several others that have visited for plays, they are a very playful breed. But energy levels, personalities, decisions processes of which dogs to engage with and which to keep away from are always so individual. Except for collar colour you would not pick these dogs apart on the field or in images.
The one common factor is their high level of social skills. They might choose to be whatever kind of domination or submission level, but they can adapt higher or lower, and they can engage with all human owners easily, if they choose, or if the humans choose.
But even in this fun breed, this high energy breed that needs an exercise outlet, you can see how socialisation keeps them young physically and mentally. That these playful and often sensitive dogs, need to be in a pack, to engage, to communicate with other dogs. Whatever extreme personalities they might morph into if left alone has the edges smoothed off by their regular pack engagements.
The dog walks have saved these dogs lives and enriched their owners lives profoundly.