Dogcharmer: New to outdoor walks

Is there a happy medium between all day and not all day?

Puppies like Louie can learn to move along on a walk, yet still explore. — Courtesy Tom Shelby

Hi Tom!

I have a question about my miniature schnauzer puppy, Louie. He’s 6 months old. I’ve had him since he was about 8 weeks old. So far, training has been going reasonably well, but I need some advice about walking him on leash. I live in a suburban neighborhood where he has to be on a leash when we go walking. He’ll want to dart from one side of the street to the other, or run down the street full speed, or spend eternity sniffing every blade of grass, or literally sit down in the middle of the street and “take it all in.” 

How do I let him explore his surroundings, because he loves it, but yet let him know I’m in control when it’s time to move along? I don’t want the leash to become a tug of war between us, and I want to enjoy the great outdoors along with him. Thanks for any advice!

Marilyn Reilly

Dear Marilyn,

Congrats on your new addition, who’s so cute that he can’t help but get you to socialize more than you realize. Lots of people are going to want to pet him and ask you about him. And you’re right about his wanting to take it all in! At this point his world is absolutely fascinating, especially through his nose. When he smells the bush that your neighbor’s dog peed on, he knows the age, sex, and health of the dog that peed. To you he’s taking an eternity sniffing a few blades of boring grass. As for Louie, he’s “blown away” by the new, captivating smell of the garter snake that passed by a little while ago, or the smell of the ants that recently feasted on the dead beetle. Louie is feasting on the thousands of scents that are teaching him about the world while we two-leggeds are basically clueless.

As much as we want Louie to explore and understand his world, nonetheless there has to be some compromise so you don’t spend your day watching him explore to his heart’s content. I might suggest an “easy walk harness” that attaches at the chest. That in itself will eliminate half of his pulling. To me, dog ownership always includes having treats with me. So when you’re ready to move on, try saying, “Let’s go, Louie” and with a slight tug on the leash as you run the treat past his nose, start walking, and after a bunch of steps let him get the treat while the two of you are moving forward. He’ll soon get the idea to come along when you tell him, “Let’s go!” 

Enjoy the maturation process, coupled with his exploratory walks.


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