By Sarah DeMerle

Does your four-legged canine pal spend hours lazing around, gazing out of the window, or waiting for that next delectable treat? While many of us are preoccupied with daily responsibilities, our pets continue to need exercise in order to stay healthy. One great solution is pack-walking, a trend that has gained significant popularity on the west coast, and is now available in Buffalo.

What are packs and why is pack walking great for your dog? Packs are groups of animals that live and hunt together for survival. Since dogs are descendants of the wolf, a wild social animal that has a pack mentality, they are also pack animals. Pack mentality is determined by their different positions within the group. One pack member is always the leader, or alpha dog, to which all dogs in the group look to for protection and guidance. Pack mentality also happens in your home, even if you only have one dog. The minute you bring your new furry friend home, you become part of their pack.

What happens when you are part of the pack? When your dog looks to you as a pack member, it helps with training efforts. To feel safe and comfortable, your pet needs you to set rules and guidelines. This involves many steps during basic training. However, once you’ve succeeded, pack walks are a great next step. They provide many benefits and are highly recommended by veterinarians and other canine experts.

What happens during pack walking? Your dog will instinctively adapt to walking together with one or more other dogs, and the benefits are pretty incredible. Even dogs who tend to be territorial learn to be part of a group in a neutral environment. They feel comfortable in the pack, as they look to the alpha dog for guidance. Pack walking also fulfills a dog’s natural instinct to travel together and bond with other dogs. Not only does it offer great exercise and mental stimulation, but owners report significant improvements in their pets’ behavior. For example, many anxious and shy dogs suddenly feel a sense of comradery among the other dogs.

Examples of improved behaviors from pack walking. Lola, an older puggle, barked and ran away from us when we first met her in her backyard. Now, acclimated to the pack, she can’t wait to get in the car with us. Zev, a chocolate lab who wants to be everyone’s best friend, also helped Lola feel welcome. Marley, a tiny Chinese-crested poodle, feared big dogs because of previous unpleasant experiences in her neighborhood. Now, Marley’s best friends are two 120-pound Newfoundlands. I could write an entire book detailing similar heartwarming experiences.

I have always had a strong passion for all things dog related. Turning that passion into 716 Dog Pack allows me to help my fellow dog lovers keep their pets active, social, and well-behaved. 716 Dog Pack offers dog training, pack walks, and hikes. Want to learn more? Visit, call 716-479-1617, or email I can’t wait to meet your furry pal!