Walking Dogs

I stress out about having to walk Bailey in public, on a leash, with other dogs potentially around.  To the point that I never used to walk her in town.  We didn't attend fun events because I knew she couldn't handle it.  While understanding current limitations is a good thing, it was definitely a crutch I used a lot more than I should have.

When I moved back from college, the dogs and I started learning how to walk on leash in town.  I know most of you will just laugh at us, but growing up on a farm and just not using leashes led to poor leash behavior and every. single. little. thing. being exciting while trying to walk.  It is discouraging and aggravating, for sure!

A normal walk... even if it is in Ohio!
So we started slow.  One dog at a time, with management tools, in the evening, and with a dinner ration.  Bailey always wore a Gentle Leader.  For at least a year when I was walking both dogs, Buzz even wore a Gentle Leader.  I was not comfortable being put into a situation where I wouldn't have complete control, so I made absolutely certain I would never be faced with a situation like that.  I'm being honest when I say that our early town walks were fast, 15-20 minutes at a brisk pace, less time to sniff things and misbehave!

When Buzz started receiving acupuncture treatments and I needed to be able to assess how he was progressing, we started walking in town on a schedule.  I chose a town that had one path, was well lit, and allowed for as much walking as we needed.  It was also generally deserted after 7pm, which was ideal.

Running and sniffing at high speeds is fun!
We've since progressed to walking on trails on leash, as well as visiting other towns and we even brave the city during the day sometimes now.  This post was prompted by our walk last night and the conversation after it.  I'd never thought about the benefits of off property leash walks until the last couple of years.  For "country dogs" who don't encounter other people on a regular basis, are rarely walked on a leash, and don't experience the sights/sounds/smells of city life, it can be incredibly overwhelming to walk in a town during the day.

Take time to enjoy the smells!
A standard evening walk now consists of Bailey on her x-back with a tug line and me holding her leash (as opposed to running with her and me wearing my belt).  Buzz wears a leash attached to his car harness.  This allows both to move freely around me and sniff/explore/do whatever dogs want to be doing.  We typically go at Bailey's pace (fast) for the first 2/3 of the walk then we slow down to a Buzz pace and Bailey practices her loose leash walking skills.

I love having the luxury of not having to work on loose leash walking skills, the dogs wearing harnesses allows them to "be dogs" and allows me to relax a little.  (Last night I even listened to music while walking, a really-huge-first!)  If we're walking in town during the day they're both still wearing harnesses but on 4 foot leashes and still wearing collars I can grab hold of, or attach the leash to if need be.

Key to our success?
Setting up for success!  Assess goals for the walk and plan appropriately.  We walk for mental and physical exercise, not to practice training.  Therefore harnesses are part of our walking gear.  Pull, pull, pull all you want.  Sniff, sniff, sniff until I get tired of standing around.  Buzz's memo is: you do NOT get to pee on everything that another dog has peed on--NO marking of light posts or street signs.  I do my best to walk where we will not encounter loose dogs, but I'm not afraid to tell the loose dog to get lost if I have to.

I have no pictures of this walking business because I don't have an extra hand.  That's another thing, pictures are a lot easier to get when the dog is much further away.  If I could get a picture of us walking, it would be dog rear ends and who wants to look at those?!

My spoiled country dogs really like walking in the city, but I think we all enjoy walks at home much, much more.


Kristen said...

I love that picture of Bailey and Griffin. I look at it every day!

You've worked hard on your walking, I'm so glad that you can enjoy it now.

Eliz said...

As VP of the buzz fan club I'd like to issue this official statement. The club whole heartedly supports Buzz's lobbying of pets, treats, and generally being fawned over in addition to the intrinsic rewards of mental stimulation for the sake of mental stimulation. Thank You

Megan said...

Buzz says "thanks VP for your support!"


Megan said...

I feel like all I did for months was work on LLW, or know I should be working on LLW... so it's really nice to be able to use it now!