One thing I find really weird is how many “stressful” “problems” we’ve had with Betsy that upset me SO MUCH and I feel like it is THE END OF THE WORLD WE ARE DOG PARENT FAILURES… and then a week or two later I’m like “Oh yeah, I forgot that was even a thing!”
One of the first puppy problems we encountered was the walk.
Betsy hated the walk.
Mainly, she hated leaving the house. She’d sit and she’d refuse to move. She’d jump into my arms nervously. She’d whine, she’d shake. When we finally got back home, she’d suddenly switch gears and desperately try to drag us towards the house. We felt like jerks, but were advised by various people to just keep trying.
This went on for several weeks, and then there was a turning point.
There were actually two turning points.
One was the neighbour’s dog. Betsy loves the neighbour’s dog. He’s a 7 year old black lab and he barks at her whenever we go out for a pee break. Betsy alternates between running away, barking back, and trying to play through the fence. He’s a really friendly old guy, and one day me and Betsy happened to be going for a walk at the same time as the neighbour. Betsy was SO OBSESSED with chasing after her super fun neighbour-dog that she forgot how much she hated going for walks! Even though we took a different direction from the neighbour, just the act of getting out there completely shook Betsy from her fearful funk, and we had our first fun walk together ever.
I think the other turning point came when we started loose-leash training in obedience class (we started obedience class when Betsy was about 3.5 months old) and I started carrying treats with me to encourage her to walk next to me and not way in front/way behind.
Now I carry treats AND toys with me, and our walks have become so much more fun for both of us. We don’t just walk. We walk, we train, we play a little as a reward for good training, we get to meet people and dogs (Betsy loves meeting people and dogs). My one regret is that I didn’t start bringing treats and toys with me sooner, but honestly I don’t know if it would have mattered. I think the real problem was Betsy’s age – she was just a little too young to enjoy walks when we first got her.