Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Walk On

Walking Spartacus brings us joy like nothing else. Sure, Spartacus is super leash reactive to other dogs. It's true we have to work extra hard around passing dogs to disrupt and counter-condition his aggressive response. Despite constant training as we saunter about, our walks with Spartacus are incredibly pleasant for the most part.

Before we had dogs, we lived in New York City without cars and grew to love just walking for walking's sake. Hours and hours upon miles and miles of wandering on foot, exploring new areas, revisiting old ones - that's a day well spent. When we moved to a less urban area, we were so excited to adopt a dog to share our walks with.

With lots of training, Sparty now heels wonderfully most of the time. We move in sync and practice check-ins, and Spartacus sits when we come to a halt. We pay attention equally to each other and to our surroundings. 

Together, our leisurely strolls through Athens take us through historic neighborhoods with incredible houses, past green fire hydrants and quirky gardens.

We also pass lots of cute fenced dogs, like this sweet Shiba Inu.

Using plenty of treats to counter condition, we've gotten to a point where Spartacus can sit and lay patiently next to a fenced in barking dog. He's totally cool with us saying Hi to all the gorgeous fenced dogs in Athens, and he remains perfectly polite when we catch up with neighbors who see us petting their dogs. Not bad for a reactive pup!

Spartacus loves going on walks just as much as we do. Never mind breakfast, his day hasn't started until he's leashed up for his morning stroll. The idea of having any less than two walks a day seems crazy to us. We live to walk! 

Sparty is really beginning to grasp the behaviors we expect of him, and he tries so hard to be a good boy. Still, there's some things he just can't control. Like drooling all over himself anticipating a treat.

We're lucky we live in such a charming little city that's very safe and enjoyable for walking. Even on a gloomy, overcast day like today, the brightly colored bungalows with their year round Christmas lights and eclectic decorations keep our walks cheerful.  

Are you as addicted to walking? 
Does owning a reactive dog prevent you from taking long walks?


  1. Wow it sounds like you guys have done an awesome job with Spartacus on his reactivity! I would not normally walk around my neighborhood because I prefer to throw the dogs in the car to go somewhere off leash but we've been looking after my mom's dog since last summer and since she's older and dog aggressive we need to take her on walks from home. But I'm so glad because it's forced me to check out my neighborhood which has some beautiful homes and views. Is that last house yours? I love it!

    1. Hi Rachel. Thanks for keeping up with Sparty's small improvements! Before we started our "bad dog class", we were also in the habit of packing everyone in the car and going to various locals for trail running. Lately our priority has shifted from exercise to getting in as much training in as we can, and for us that means walking on leash and working on Sparty's triggers as much as possible. It works out well since Athens, like the Bay Area, is so pretty. That last pic isn't our house, but might as well be. Most of the smaller houses in this area are equally adorable with decked out porches. Once spring is officially here, expect many more posts about Athens porches and porch dogs!

    2. Cool, I'm looking forward to seeing more pictures! I forgot to mention that I also enjoy our neighborhood walks because it forces me to focus on their leash manners, heeling, etc. It's funny because I pretty much let Zoey do her thing since she's an old lady and it's her only daily outing so she is always zig-zagging, sniffing and looping herself around us while Kaya & Norman stay in position next to me. I couldn't think of better practice for them!