I’ve written before about how Poppy seems to think her walks are a chance to eat everything on the pavement. It got even worse when the clocks changed last autumn and it became clear that it’s almost impossible to walk her in the dark. Because her sight isn’t as good in the dark, she pretty much throws herself at wrappers, stones, cigarette butts, anything she can remotely see in the hope that it’s food. We’ve checked with the vet that we are feeding her enough and they are happy with her food intake and her weight. They’ve suggested that she was underfed before we adopted her and scavenged from a young age. It’s highly unlikely that she’ll never grow out of this. So to try and stop her throwing herself across the pavement, tripping us up in the process and making each walk feel like we’ve been wrestling a pig, we’ve been training her.

Dog Walking

Dog owners. Do you talk to your dog while walking them? I do. All the time. Poppy walks a lot better when she’s given attention, regular praise and treats. I must look and sound like a complete loony, calling her along, telling her she’s cute and a good girl… But walks are always more successful when I do. Here are some of her commands:

  • ‘This Way’ – when I want to go in one direction and Poppy wants to go in another. Or I’ve spotted some food just out of her reach and want her to come to me instead of having her pull me with her towards it.
  • ‘Leave’ – I use this when she’s got to food or something she shouldn’t be eating. She’s supposed to leave what she’s found and come and get a treat. This works really well, 75% of the time! I’ve managed to get her to spit things out and come to me for a treat. However, there are times when it doesn’t work and it’s so frustrating!
  • ‘Poppy Here’ – This is her command to come to me straight away, though if there’s a squirrel nearby, I haven’t got a hope of getting her attention, which is why she isn’t allowed off the lead.
  • ‘Walk’ – If there’s a lot of rubbish ahead or it’s bin day and we need to get Poppy’s attention, I hold a treat up by shoulder and tell Poppy to walk. She watches me and walks in a pretty straight line. This is a great way of getting her past lots of distractions.
  • ‘Wait’ – Obviously, this one’s for crossing the street or for when I need to catch up with her. She’s pretty good at this, especially if you give the lead a little tug. She’ll wait for as long as you want, until you say ‘Go’. She gets lots of looks from drivers as we wait at traffic lights on our morning walk.

PoppyDogIt can be quite frustrating, because you’ll have a really great walk, where she does everything she’s told, gets lots of rewards and attention, then as we’re nearly home, she’ll do something she’s not supposed to or ignore your command. She’s much better at meeting other dogs, mainly because we’re a lot calmer and we’re learning to read other dog owners, to see if they’re happy with Poppy meeting their dog. If they are, we let the lead go long, they sniff each other, the other dog gets hit in the face by Poppy’s giant tail and we move on.

Dog WalksHalf the battle with Poppy is being prepared and making sure we’ve got lots of treats to hand. That way, when she does something good, we can reward her straight away. The difficulty is getting her not to eat food from the street. It’s quite worrying because we don’t always know what she’s eaten. While putting a muzzle on her would stop this straight away, we want to try and train her to ignore the food. She’s definitely getting better, so we are making progress. The improved weather makes a massive difference, because training your dog to walk better in the rain is no fun whatsoever!

Walking the DogSo if you see a crazy lady, talking to her dog, while walking round the park, that’ll be me, trying to train Poppy! Have you had to train your dog to walk better? Let me know if you have any tips!

4 Comments on Walking Poppy the Dog

  1. sounds like you’re doing all the right things ^..^ Bene has previous life issues too as he tries to round up other animals, so we keep him on a lead if livestock around. He’s pretty good with instructions (unless he’s really zoned in to something which is the exact time you want him to listen 😉 Not great with blokes either as think he must’ve been badly treated before so we’re gradually desensitizing him with friends.. other than that he’s very sweet and affectionate ^..^ 🙂

    • Thanks Pip. Glad to hear Bene is settling in well. It can be tough when their behaviours are caused by something earlier on in their life and trying to correct it. I suppose as long as they’re happy & healthy, it’ll be alright 🙂

    • Poppy stays on the lead. She’s such a hound dog that she walks through her nose and I can never catch up with her when she’s off the lead! Plus, she’s mega stubborn, though we’re working on the ‘Poppy Here’ command and she’s getting better all the time 🙂

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