Having a youthful Newf like Odin in the house again has refreshed my memory on what it’s actually like to have a young, vibrant Newf.
Over the years I’ve gotten so many questions about tips on training and everyday life and I really haven’t been able to answer them as well as I would like to because it’s been YEARS since I really had any training issues with Sherman and Leroy.
Things that I did back then I either can’t remember or are totally irrelevant these days but now that Odin’s here I can tackle some of the questions with real-life tips on what works for us!
A huge concern that I’ve noticed over the years with owners and their Newfies is walking well on a leash.
Since I’m not a dog trainer my suggestions here are going to be more for the owner than for the dog.
Odin came to us not familiar with walking on a leash.
It’s doubtful that he ever went for walks on a leash in his previous life.
He may have taken himself for walks but he wasn’t walked by anyone.
Odin’s biggest issue was pulling.
My biggest issue was not being able to predict Odin’s reactions which lead to anxiety.
Hi! I’m Jen and I have anxiety!
My anxiety isn’t something that I talk about often but I have mentioned it in passing here and there.
Walking has always been therapeutic for my anxiety but several years ago there was an incident when I was out walking Sherman and Leroy that led to walking my dogs being a HUGE anxiety issue.
Short story: An unleashed dog came running after us and Sherman went into protective mode.
I got dragged for several minutes and Sherman almost got hit by a car.
That was the last time that I ever walked the dogs together by myself and for MONTHS after I wouldn’t walk any dog by myself.
I was terrified.
I would go out on walks with my heart racing, sweaty palms, a foghorn and mace in my pockets and I was constantly looking behind me.
After almost a year I worked through all that and my walks became therapeutic again.
With the passing of Sherman and Leroy’s struggle with mobility, my walks had really dwindled.
Odin coming into my life brought my long walks back but they also brought back some anxiety.
Odin came to us not being horrible on a leash but also not being great.
He was excited, unpredictable and a puller for the first month.
The unpredictable part was where my anxiety mostly came from so I wanted to quickly but safely address that and learn as much about Odin as I could while working on the pulling part.
Here are a few things that helped us both along the way.
This was huge with getting Odin to walk nicely on a leash.
Dogs thrive on routine and I noticed this pretty quick with Odin.
If we skipped a walk or went on a walk significantly later than what Odin was used to he would get anxious.
If we changed our route, which we had to do for 4 days because there was a dead deer lying in our path, it was like starting from scratch.
Now that we’ve been doing this for a few months we can change things up a bit without major issues but being consistent so he knew what to expect in the early days was key for him I think.
Too much change sent him into overdrive.
It was key for me because even though you never know what’s going to happen, with staying on the same route I was able to familiarize myself with our surroundings.
Where the squirrels hang out. Homes that have dogs. People that walk at the same time as us. When the traffic was lighter….etc….
Be Confident In Your Walking Equipment.
Since I was still getting to know Odin and didn’t know how he would react to things that we may encounter when out on our walks such as people, pets, wildlife and sounds, I needed to be confident that the leash and harness were safe and would contain him if he freaked out.
I didn’t want him slipping his collar, backing out of a harness or a flimsy leash breaking.
For weeks I walked him with a collar and harness and for the first few days, he was double leashed.
After I got to know him and our Duo Gear Adapt Harness a little better I dropped the collar and extra leash.
I can tell you that knowing that Odin could not get away from me made all the difference in my confidence in walking him and that confidence transferred over to him.
Overcoming that anxiety and being more confident in myself and the equipment I was using was probably the most important piece to our walking issues.
Don’t Give Too Much Leash.
I have a 6-foot leash for Odin but most of the time Odin is only given about 3 feet of a loose leash.
The closer he is to me, the more control I have over him.
Newfies are big dogs and you need to be the one in control when walking them and they need to know that.
If I give Odin 6 feet, that’s 6 feet separating us.
I am much more likely to lose control of him when there is that much space between us.
He is going to pull me a lot more when he’s walking with 6 feet of tension-filled leash verses 3 feet of a loose leash.
I’ve experimented with this and for Odin and us, it’s true.
Walking is a big activity for me.
Alright, it’s my only activity but I love to do it and I look forward to it every day so it was important for me to make sure that Odin enjoys it as much as me.
Again, these are things that worked for us so they might not work for everyone and more in-depth training might be needed but identifying the issues that I was having instead of solely focusing on the issues that Odin was having was a very important step.
p.s. I have no advice for the stop and drop Newfie that refuses to move. I can’t seem to find a solution to that. Lol.
p.p.s. Odin wears the Duo Gear Adapt Harness that has an anti-slip system that locks your dog’s body when they are most prone to slipping out of their harness. I am such a believer in this harness that I have teamed up with Duo Gear and they have offered a 30% discount to our friends that would like to try it out on their dog. Use code NEWF19
We also have the Duo Eclipse Adventure Harness which is an awesome, sturdy harness that we’ll be using a lot more this year! NEWF19 will also give you 30% off of this style!
AND! Exciting news! We are working with our friends at Duo Gear to design a brand new harness made with Newfies in mind so stay tuned for that in a few months!
If you have a dog that is over 80 pounds you just need to reach out and send a message to Duo Gear and they will customize a harness based on your dog’s measurement.