If you are a Baby Boomer, you may remember dogs the likes of Lassie, Rin-Tin-Tin, and Bullet the Wonder Dog. They all lived, worked, and played in the country. Sometimes they were out in the woods, sometimes on top of mountains, or sometimes on the sides of roads. They were always at their master’s sides, paying attention to what they had to do, and never wearing leashes.
So you want to take your dog up into the woods and have leisurely walks along mountain trails. You aren’t going to have him on a leash and you expect that he will always stay close to you and always run back if you call him. Why shouldn’t he? Lassie, Rin-Tin-Tin, and Bullet always did that on (Black and White) TV!
You need to understand that there is a completely different set of distraction and points of focus in the woods than the suburban environment where most of us live. When exposed to entirely “new things”, our dog will either become very inquisitive or pensive and scared. These actions decrease our ability to maintain their focus and safely guide them.
We need to prepare our dog for these new experiences by passively introducing him to situations we can control and will allow him to learn. We must also clearly understand our dog’s specific limitations so that the freedom we will eventually allow will still keep him safe and secure. Robin and I have a great set of exercises and learning tools that will allow you to have a safe walk with your dog in the woods. Please check out our dog training article titled “How Do I Safely Walk My Dog in the Woods”.