As I’ve previously mentioned we’ve had a few problems taking Willow for a walk. We live on a quiet road but at the end of our road is a pretty busy main route which has a pretty much constant flow of traffic on it. Two hundred yards or so down this road there is a public footpath and bridleway where it’s nice and quiet and you can walk for quite some distance without having to go on a public road – ideal for walking a dog. Or rather it would be ideal for walking a dog if the dog was happy to walk there.
It became apparent on the first day we had Willow that she really did not like the noise and business of the main road. She refused to walk down it point blank. I thought she would probably be OK once she got onto the bridleway so I picked her up and carried her for the two hundred yards. She trembled the whole way down the road but sure enough was happy to walk once she got away from the road.
The first day we didn’t walk very far down the bridleway, she got to the first corner and decided it was time to come home. This involved being carried all the way back up the hill. The second day she walked twice as far and on the third day twice as far again, but each time would not walk along the main road and had to be carried, trembling each time. In addition, any time we passed another person, with or without a dog, she would pull to get away from them.
The first conclusion I very quickly drew was that it was better for Willow to wear a harness that I could clip her lead to rather than just a collar. To be honest, she’s such a dinky dog that her collar, even done up on the tightest setting, is quite loose and on the first walk she nearly slipped her head out of it in her struggles to get away from the traffic.
I worked on the theory that if we did the same thing each day, eventually she would start associating the main road with going for a walk and would eventually get used to it and hopefully walk down the road by herself. By the end of the first week, although she was relaxing more while on her walk, she still wasn’t walking down the road.
Which brings us to today. The weather here was vile today – windy, horizontal rain, cold and generally miserable; however, being half Cairn Terrier, that doesn’t seem to bother Willow. Daughter, Husband and I donned waterproofs and took Willow for a walk, you can guess which one of us enjoyed it most. However, Willow walked all the way down the road to the bridleway, did a short loop along the paths and then walked all the way back up the hill to come home. She wasn’t entirely happy about doing it, judging by her body language, but nevertheless she did it.
I have a theory on why she has suddenly succeeded. It may be that she has just got used to the road, however, the difference today was that Daughter was with us and she was holding the end of the lead. Previously it has been either just me, or both Husband and I walking her as the children were at school. By letting Daughter walk Willow and by me walking ahead of her, Willow was effectively trying to catch up with me, the person who usually walks her. Alternatively, it might be that walking her on some different quieter roads while we were away at the weekend gave her a bit of confidence. Either way, I hope that’s the last time we have to carry her for a walk!