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Simple Tips For Walking Your Newfie Without Losing Your Mind

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. 

newfie with walking harness and 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. 

Be Consistent

This was huge with getting Odin to walk nicely on a leash.

Every day. 

Same time. 

Same person. 

Same route.

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. 

 

 

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Marilyn

Tuesday 8th of March 2022

I'm on my third Newf now and my experience has been that if a dog with evil intentions comes at you your adult newf is not going to leave you to run after them but rather will barricade you to protect you. A newf is likely to lay on the offender and pin him down. Of course the vocal effects are dreadful and most other dogs will back down. My girls were/are excellent judges of people and animals. They are independent thinkers and with time I learned to trust them. Most important for them to learn is the "Sit" and "Down". Dogs don't know how to Not do something, but they know how to Do something. A commanding Sit at a perilous time will override their loss of mind. Control of a Newf is mental, not physical. Of course a lead or harness helps. Reinforce the sit command with loads of praise and get the down down. While walking every now and then do a random Sit and be so proud and happy and then the response will become automatic. Have the puppy/dog look into your eyes (eye level). Once Newfies get their "Newfy Soul" they really want to be one with you-more than any other dog in my opinion. Like any other love affair this takes time..

Linda Holt

Tuesday 5th of October 2021

Love your writings on gear, walking, anxiety issues, dog issues and, well, everything. My last newf, Luke, became dog aggressive after several loose dog attacks to him. It was horrible and created terrible anxiety when walking, for me. And for him too and really ruined where we could safely go. I have a female newf now who walks well on lead, has no issues and I want to keep it that way. She has been attacked once by a neighbor's loose dog and bitten on the nose....but she has developed no trauma from it and is willing to meet any dog even if it is snapping and yapping. That in itself is scary...she has no fear and no desire to fight back either. That's good and bad. I, too, carry pepper spray. a horn, and sometimes more (remote Alaskan island with bears, wolves and nasty loose dogs) Plus, I'm 70-ish so I sure don't need to be dragged off somewhere, haha. I have many collars, halters and leads but intend to check out this Duo...thanks for the recommendation. Keep on writing...I love it...and many blessings for keeping that anxiety at bay, I totally understand. Hugs, Lin...in Alaska

Jen

Tuesday 5th of October 2021

Hi Linda, Thanks so much for the kind words and comment! Even though I've only had 1 encounter with Odin and an off-leash dog I think he would respond the same way as your girl. This day though I did get nervous because I didn't know if he would be protective of Lou. I really don't want to find out either! The harnesses have really been a saving grace for me because I'm much more confident knowing they can't slip out!

Nora

Monday 31st of May 2021

Not even sure if you’ll see this because the post is from 2020. I have a 13 month old male that I’ve trained I mean I’m on my second trainer and an e-collar. Just this morning took him out to “properly socialize” no one around thank the Lord. Only one car about 100 ft away and no dog. I unload Max, put him in a sit holding onto leash proceed to put back his ramp. Bam! He takes off at the couple and toddler. I fall into street, dragged, let go. Apologies and put him back in car crying. This keeps happening. He’s TOO friendly!!! Does this pass?? I can’t take him anywhere because he will blow off all commands and e-collar(I have a trainer) Please tell me they grow out of this!😫 I have the no pull harness from the company above. Doesn’t stop a 150lb toddler

linda caulfield

Friday 9th of April 2021

This has been my problem for almost a decade, walking my two big dogs (more than 100 lbs each). Seeing off leash dogs and chasing coyotes, they drag me down and i've torn my shoulders.

An off leash dog got grabbed by the neck of an on leash dog and shook, animal control came out, i don't know how it ended because we got out of there.

the "my dog is friendly excuse" to break the law ; go to an unleashed area if a mean big dog breaks lose at your unleashed dog's teasing, i suppose we'll see how the friendly dog makes out

people regularly roll down their windows to let their dog bark at us, and then roll it back up people bring their comparatively smaller animal into our group to challenge us (I'm saying no- give us space) they think it's a challenge-

i've talked to animal control, the police, the patrol- all of them say that unless the dog makes contact too bad for you and the leash law is nothing to be enforced

Christina

Friday 30th of October 2020

I just found this blog and it really helped me feel a bit better. I’ve been walking my 10 month old male Newf twice a day for months. We both love it. He’s great on leash most of the time, only pulling occasionally. But this week he really hit his adolescence and things took a turn. He lunged at two dogs while we were walking on our favourite trail. I had to hold on to a tree to hold him back the second time! Up to that point he’d lived every dog we saw. It shook me up so bad and now I’m having major anxiety. I literally lay in bed at night wondering where and when to walk him that will pose the least risk of this happening again. To make it worse there are a few reactive dogs in my neighborhood so I’m terrified of running into them on walks and not being able to hold my dog back. I’m so sad because we love our walks. Really hoping we can work through it. This blog gives me hope. :)

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