Tuesday Topics 6 - Walking a Fine Line


Cabana likes to sit under my desk and put her head on my knees while I work. I knew the good Lord gave me padded knees for a reason--so I can be a good chin rest.

This week's Tuesday Topic is about WALKING. How can such a simple thing be so hard?! Guide dog puppies in training have to walk without pulling on their leash, pay unflagging attention to their human and ignore all the others, disregard dogs, cats, birds, fish, and not be tempted by sticks, stones, gum or fecal matter on the ground. That's a LOT to ask of these little babies.

Is it any wonder poor Cabana has the occasional tantrum when we're walking? I think I'd throw a hissy fit, too, if I were in her shoes. Thankfully, these past few days, Cabana has been doing much better. Thanks for the encouragement from other puppy raisers last week! It was sorely needed and much appreciated. I'm working on being more relaxed yet also more assertive--seems a little like an oxymoron, but I think I can do it.

Something I've wondered from the start is how far and how often we should be walking our pups (I know each puppy is individual--but humor me with generalizations). I have been diligent about walking Cabana every single day, but maybe that's not necessary or recommended. Maybe it makes walking seem like drudgery for both of us? There are definitely days when I'd rather not walk, but I've been making myself do it for her sake.

Right now, we walk for about 45 minutes, somewhere between 2-3 miles. Is that too far for a 6 month old puppy? Not far enough? Don't puppies go bonkers with too much energy if you didn't walk them that day?

Poppy The Puppy  – (April 7, 2009 at 1:28 PM)  

We have chatted about this before. It is important to get their energy out daily - imparative really. It makes them easier to live with. But, it can be done in different manners. A crazy flexi leash session of running and semi-freedom. A run around the yard. A crazy game of tug. All are ways of getting energy out. I don't have a safe place to walk in the dark (no street lights in the country. Getting the mail is scary some days). So, when we need to blow off energy in the dark, we run in he yard. We tug and toss the romp-n-roll. We chase and encourage Poppy to run run run. That helps us not kill her in the house :)

Exercise is important, but not specifically walking.

I love that picture of Cabana! Poppy would be trying to snag something out of the trash under the desk.

Now, it's time for Poppy's lunchtime walk!

raiserally  – (April 7, 2009 at 4:51 PM)  

Like your leader said, exercise is certainly imperative but how much depends on the pup. Too much exercise while they're young can make them More energetic surprisingly! I know what you mean, though. My first puppy "Iverson" had boundless energy and he got his energy out by running in the yard and chewing on bones/playing tug mostly. Varied exercise is definintely mentally stimulating.

Mental stimulation is actually very helpful in the exercise department as well. Challenging environments, outings, hardcore training are all very mentally stimulating and can exhaust a pup better than a five mile run (Definitely not recommended for health reasons! /wink/) An outing to two stores will wear Eclipse out far better than a ten minute walk on the treadmill and a 20 minute play time in the yard with Kira!

Good job for being so vigilant with the walks!

Emily, Burgess, and Tahoe  – (April 7, 2009 at 4:52 PM)  

It really depends on the puppy! Burgess used to be confused when he was younger about what a walk was. Why would you walk just to turn around and retrace your steps? A good romp around the yard is usually just fine for him! I'd say on average about a 30 minute walk every other day with play on the days you don't walk would be good. Though it's always hard to tell :)

Carrie and Waffle  – (April 7, 2009 at 5:28 PM)  

as you said it depends on the dog. Our 1st pup would transform into 'evileen' unless she had about two hours of exercise a day. now that she is a CC pup her owners say it takes between 3-5 miles before she is throughly tired. Lani and Waffle not so much. I try and walk Waffle at least 30 mins a day 5 times a week. I do it 50% for her and 50% for me (I need to lose weight). She would be fine with less.

Walking is a good way to bond with your dog and to reinforce training and socialize. At the end of the walk I would let them be dogs - if and when I gave the ok, they could sniff trees, posts and grass but they had to stop when I gave the command. I never let the dogs relieve while on a walk and unless they relieved 1st at home they couldn't go. GDB dogs do need to be totally focused on you as a handler, but you can make it fun for them not just exercise, but it must be on your terms.

OSU 98  – (April 7, 2009 at 5:37 PM)  

My girl is just a normal every day pet...however, she is MUCH better (shall I say much more compliant with my requests) when she has been exercised. At just over 7 years, I still walk her 2-3 miles 4-5 times a week. I also find that if I interrupt her routine somewhat that can tire her out as well. This winter was brutal in the midwest, and it got to the point where I was making up reasons to get her out of the house at night - the excited of "going for a ride in the car" was enough, as she is a very good car rider. Whether it be to the bank, ATM, post office or gas station, just the minor breaks in her routine seemed to do the trick on some nights. Some nights the entire toy basket ended up on the floor..

I love to read your blog on Tuesday nights! Reading all the comments and training tips have helped me become a better leader for my dog. People tell me all the time what a good dog she is..and she is a very good dog, but we work very hard and constantly practice good behavior! Cabana is a VERY beautiful girl.

Erin,Bubs,Tex and Veda  – (April 7, 2009 at 5:40 PM)  

Defiantly dog dependent!!! All my dachshunds need is a good run outside for 30-1 hour...and the golden is good with a 30-45 minute off-leash run.
Now the dog I had before him?? 45 minutes was was a breather,and he was stilll bouncy and crazy in the house. So we were walking him, and then letting him run, his heart out..weather permitting.
Rain or Shine, he HAD to have exercise.

Kim, Bethany and the girls..  – (April 7, 2009 at 6:37 PM)  

For guide dog puppies the most important thing about walks is that they do not create any bad relieving habits. So the length of walks I take my puppies on is dependent on how that is going. If they have had more than two accidents on a walk all walks are pretty much stopped for a minimum of a few weeks and then started again but are only about 10 minutes long and increased gradually in the next month to two months.

As others have mentioned, tug, playing with a Jolly Ball or jug in the yard, and running on a flexi lead are other forms of exercise.

I agree with one of the above posts as well. I had a somewhat hyper puppy who I decided to walk for a mile every day for two weeks and it actually increased her stamina and energy level!

Good Luck,

Bethany

Anna and Avani  – (April 7, 2009 at 6:45 PM)  

Walks. In my opinion 2-3 miles per day walking sounds a little bit much for a 6 month old, but as long as you're not having relieving issues and as long as Cabana doesn't seem too overly tired when you get home I would say that's personally fine.

Too much exercise that you initiate (as in: with walks, the dog walks by you and isn't allowed to stop until the end of the walk, unlike when running in a backyard, etc the dog can plop down when tired) can cause hip and elbow problems (which leads to immediate career changes after health checks) because in those early months (from around 2 months old when we get them to around 8 months) it is vital that the joints can grow properly. Usually, walks aren't as big of an issue in causing these health problems, but it definitely doesn't mean it can't...fast walking however is not a good idea until the dog is around 6-8 months old because of behavior and health problems that may result.

This is ALL my opinion and experience. I've seen dogs career changed for joint problems due to being exercised vigorously daily, and therefore I'm rather cautious in exercising. With my puppies I tend to walk them for 30 minutes per day and then if they have any other energy I stick to playing tug or letting them run on the flexi.

I'm glad that Cabana has been doing a lot better recently. Also - that is most definitely not an oxymoron. :) These puppies are good at knowing how we are feeling and that affects how they behave - being calm is VERY good (and usually pups will behave better when we're calm), but you still have to let them know who is boss! :)

Cabana's Puppy Raiser  – (April 8, 2009 at 8:44 AM)  

Some GREAT points raised here! My leaning toward the Dog Whisperer's advice is what makes me think that it has to be a walk, as opposed to running around in the backyard. Cesar would say it's like taking kids to Chuck E Cheese, in comparison to tennis lessons. Running in the yard doesn't incorporate the discipline aspect or the mental stimulation.

Cabana isn't a rugged tug-of-war player (my husband likes to "go easy" on her because he's worried about hurting her teeth) so she doesn't tug at full force. We still play it with her daily, but I don't think it's enough to expend her energy.

However, your comments definitely make me realize that I need to give Cabana more time to be a dog--run around, sniff trees, and be puppy silly. I see now that she isn't getting enough of that. So while I still think the IDEAL situation is to walk at least a little every day (not everyone can do this, but since I can, I'd like to do so), maybe vary the walks more between 20-45 minutes, I can also add in more Chuck E Cheese time. Seems like a perfect way to solve a lot of issues! THANK YOU, everyone!!

Emily, Burgess, and Tahoe  – (April 8, 2009 at 8:09 PM)  

Letting them be a puppy is VERY important!! It took me a while to learn that, but now, with pups 3 and 4, I've learned it may actually be one of the most important things we can do for our pups. We are only raising nice, obedient, happy, loved puppies. They don't always have to be strictly 'working' and need time to play! Kids love Chuck E Cheese, and it's a great way to expend energy like once a week, with the tennis lessons the other days ;)

raiserally  – (April 9, 2009 at 2:31 PM)  

I was just thinking about this as well, I find that one Long/intense exercise session a day is good, but at the same time the energy comes back /wink/ What I do with Eclipse (although he is a lower energy pup) is give him 20 minutes of play time before breakfast which generally entails a romp in the yard with a jollyball or another toy (generally one of his baby bears) and around lunch we do the 10 minute walk on the treadmill and then he gets two more designated play times through the afternoon and sometimes another walk. Breaking up the exercise also helps keep them calmer throughout the day without Increasing their stamina/energy needs

Katlynn, DeSoto and Focus  – (April 9, 2009 at 6:33 PM)  

I think your walking time if great as Focus need that much or more every morning before school, and it sounds like Cabana is a little hyper girl like her half brother! Since I have raised a dog and had him graduate I can tell you that he always pulled a little bit on walks till the day he went back and I actually heard that them pulling on leash while us puppy raisers have them is not a bad trait becasue they want them to pull a little bit in harness.

raiserally  – (April 9, 2009 at 9:26 PM)  

Pulling in harness and on leash are two completely different things. They're supposed to walk on a loose leash in the raiser home as when they're matched with a blind person and walked out of harness they can't be pulling as their partner may simply not have the strenght to deal with that, and it's an annoying habit

Becky  – (April 11, 2009 at 7:58 PM)  

Cricket does the resting on my knee too ... little snuggle bug - love it. Cabana is so sweet.

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