Last week our pups went for their first training walk. We had no idea what to expect, but we were quite excited for what the day could bring.
We joined Just Dog’s trainer, Jessa, at a neighbouring park where other dog walkers take some of their packs to run free and get some exercise.
The park we went to was fully enclosed – a kids play park, nicely repurposed for dogs too – in a residential neighbourhood.
There was quite a lot of fan-fare from our two as we pulled up and they saw the park and the other dogs. (There were about 8 or so dogs at the time we arrived.) We got them out the car sniffing and settling a bit before we started walking.
The Training Walk
The walk comprised of walking our two on the outskirts of the park around the block. The idea was that they could see the other dogs, smell them, hear them, but have a barrier between them. If and when they showed interest in the dogs in the park, we would allow them a sniff and a quick greet (3 second rule) through the fence to the other dogs.
Walked around the park a couple of times. We were there in total for about 30-40 minutes – all of which spent walking around the block/park.
The last 10 min, one of the trainers brought her pack out of the park (on leads) to walk adjacent to us around the block – so our two could get used to walking with other dogs.
What I liked:
- That we were outside the park so our dogs didn’t get too overwhelmed, but could get used to the dogs in the park.
- If and when Shakti was anxious and snapped, we knew she had had enough for the moment, and walked on. This maybe happened a handful of times. She quickly recovered and sought out to investigate the fence and look into the park where the dogs were.
- Our dogs got a hellova good walk in! Also in a new environment where they could take in new sights and smells – the were pooped when we got back home!
- That it was neutral territory – which at least for now is a good and gentle way to ease them into this training.
- The dog walker’s dogs were all super social, and SO well behaved. I look forward when our bunch will be as calm on the lead as these guys were.
What I didn’t like:
- The neighbourhood had a lot of barking dogs in it. (Sure, this could help with the training walk.) BUT there were two houses in particular where I was literally sh!tting myself. These two houses had Pitbulls. Now before you berate me on the breed, I do love them and don’t have anything against well-raised pups. These two were not that. One was standing ON the roof of the garage, and had clearly been there enough times to completely trample the electric fencing on the roof! It was standing there each time we passed and barking at us franticly. The other was behind a palisade fence and would charge aggressively at the fence and as we walked passed it, and try and get at the dogs – spit flying everywhere. Each time we passed both houses I would say a little prayer that we would be safe.
- Two dogs actually did escape their yards. A Husky with a Fox Terrier. Thank goodness my partner Jacques could round them up and get them back inside before they reached our two.
It was really great to see how our dogs reacted to the dogs inside the park, and even those barking frantically around us. They of course had a few moments with the park dogs (minor), and were also quite shaken with the pitties each time we passed them. Jessa called our walk a “honeymoon” walk as she says most “first-timers” do well the first time since it’s on neutral territory (they don’t know); but the more walks they go on, the more their usual behaviours come out.
So we’ll see. I just don’t like the Pitbull situation one bit.
The next steps:
We’ll be continuing with these training walks for the next couple of weeks. We’ll also be changing up our walking areas between the *park and Leadville itself, so our dogs will get these training walks twice per week. (*park will remain unnamed as I do not wish to alert anyone of the location of these pitties. We all sadly know what happens them if the wrong people find them 🙁 )
For at least the next couple of weeks, we’ve been asked not to walk them in-between the Training walks – this, so they can keep the good behaviour, and not go back to their usual tricks just because we’re walking them.
I’ll let you guys know how the rest of these Training walks go!
*UPDATE 25 APRIL 2019*
Based on the experience we had with the first training walk, we received some really valuable feedback from some of our other readers (and clients!) who happen to also be Behaviour Consultants. I found the feedback invaluable, and it led me to have a discussion with the Just Dogs team about how uncomfortable I had felt in this walk. The team made adjustments and all walks since this one, was in a more secure space, with a lot less going on ito surroundings, with dogs – if there are any – securely tucked behind their perimeter walls.