We are all so excited about taking Margot out for a walk on a lead, having been confined to the garden for what seems like so long. This in itself is not without careful thought and preparation however – do we walk solely from our house given that we are limited to the amount of walking time while she is still a puppy? Or do we mix it up a little and venture a bit further afield which involves a journey in the car? And what happens when we will inevitably encounter other people with their dogs?
The first time we tried walking Margot on the lead in our road, we walked as far as the grassy area a few hundred metres away. At first it was a pretty slow process as she wanted to sniff at everything new along the way – yep, that’s right: everything. Still, it must be a sensory overload for her with all the plants, grass, drains and other dog detritus lingering around. Each day I can see minor improvements in the way she checks in with me (undoubtedly for the treat she knows is coming) and she will sit on the edge of the pavement before we cross the road or if a car is coming. (It will be interesting to see what happens with this once we graduate to the main road…)
Harness or collar? Depends on which articles you read. One train of thought suggests that a collar stops your dog from pulling and a harness encourages it. Other dog trainers argue that a harness is kinder for puppies learning to walk on a leash. Certainly our pup is so overexuberant that attaching the lead to her collar would worry me that she could hurt herself. So, harness it is. But yes, she does pull on it, especially when she spots something living and moving – other humans and other dogs…
Walking in the woods on the weekend. This was great fun and a lovely family activity until we crossed paths with another puppy.
The more times I take Margot out for a walk (twice a day for short bursts) the more we are both growing in confidence. The harness slips on and off really easily because I feel that she is excited to get out into the big, wide world for a walk and she knows what’s coming. She has almost stopped biting at the lead completely, which is also a positive. My fears now involve her unpredictable behaviour when we meet other dogs. The first encounter in the woods (when the photos above were taken) involved an entanglement with another puppy only a few months older than Margot. It looked like a full-on fight to me, but the other dog owner was not the least bit phased and said they were ‘just playing’ and we should let them get on with it. To be honest it didn’t look much fun, especially when Margot had one of her ears nipped, and J picked her up in the end.
The following day we met a lady with two dogs. We explained our nervousness and she was brilliant, encouraging some gentle interaction between the three of them. Her words made me smile: ‘She will be able to feel your fear down the lead!’ Is that so? I felt a bit sorry for her two hounds as they didn’t seem that happy to be jumped all over, but I was really grateful for her attitude.
During the week I have bumped into a few people I have seen in and around our local area as well as a couple of neighbours. Margot didn’t like it when one dog barked at her to leave him alone. ‘Her tail’s gone down between her legs. She’s not happy. We’ll walk on ahead.’ I was grateful for his understanding too. You would think it might have taught her to be a bit more mild-mannered in the next encounter, but no. Our neighbour’s cockapoo, another dog just a few months older than Margot, is the epitome of calm – I am hoping that some of her role model behaviour might rub off on our pup in time. She too seems a bit nonplussed by all the excitement. (And it’s a good job there’s a grab handle on the top of Margot’s harness too!) Another couple out walking simply laughed at my efforts to stop our puppy from jumping all over them. Baby steps and all that…
(Btw can anyone tell me when dogs start using other outside areas to toilet in – or is it a case of not being able to go anywhere else apart from ‘your own place’? I know a few humans who are like that.)
Travelling in the car
After a suggestion in the comments from a friend a few weeks ago, I decided to try putting Margot inside a box-type contraption with the aim of making her more comfotable in the car… (I liked this one as it doubles up as a seat cover when she gets bigger and there’s an extra connection too. The box has a belt on it and we have the seatbelt bungee so it should be completely safe.)
As with everything, I started small. The first time on my own I got Margot into the box and we sat in the car for a few minutes, her in the back and me in the front, before I even started the engine. I didn’t go any further than in and out of the drive. The following day we tried again and I drove a few hundred metres down the road before turning around. The whining continued. Third time lucky – we made it out of the road and along to the roundabout and back again. On this occasion she lay down on the fleecy baby blanket I had retrieved from the airing cupboard. We could be onto something here… (I’m not going to lie, there was still some whining this time too, but I feel once again that we are making positive progress in small increments.) I’ll keep you posted.
I’ve got them wrapped around my paws. All I have to do is sit by the French doors and someone rushes over to let me out. Sometimes I’m happy just looking through the glass at the birds when they fly over. It’s got cold outside all of a sudden and the big people don’t always come out into the garden with me. No matter, there’s still plenty to bite, chew and explore with my mouth out there, especially the big patch of green stuff. They have stopped chasing me when I pick up stones, which makes it less fun chomping on those.
The purple latex sausage dog doesn’t look quite as intact now as in the first picture below. But it’s one of my favourite toys we have bought for Margot so far because it is soft and squishy. It started off with a squeak inside – cue a number of comedy moments when one of us trod on it in the kitchen by mistake and woke up the sleeping puppy. I continully pushed the plastic piece back into the right place at the bottom end but the squeak seems to have given up the ghost now. Margot likes to play a tug of war game with it – as she always chooses to grab onto the head with her vice-like grip, I’m surprised that the two ears and arms remain in existence. I don’t think they will for very much longer. Bits of stuffing have started sprouting out too, which was most unexpected.
Check out the sorry state of the oversized tennis ball… Margot likes competing with me to keep hold of that too, and for those of you who know me, I promise you that I do let her win sometimes! The knotted sheet remains popular when we hide food inside the tied sections and my dad’s old flip flop is now even smaller than in the fourth picture. (It’s a good job that none of us find wearing that kind of footwear comfortable in the slightest!) I am continually picking up tiny pieces of red and blue foam from the kitchen floor.
Obligatory (!) photos of Margot asleep…
Next week… venturing further afield, more socialisation and hopefully some puppy classes.
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4 responses to “Dog Blog #6 – Walking on the lead”
I love being out for a walk with Margot, but who knew there would be so many things to think about. Lovely photos 🥰
Indeed, but we are all learning so much together! x
It’s so much fun reading all the antics of Margot! You all sound like you are enjoying Margot very much, it really is a rollercoaster though isn’t it? I guess that’s what makes it fun! Look forward to your next post!
Thanks, Helen – rollercoaster is spot on. But so much fun too! I’m so pleased to hear that you are enjoying the blog.