Q Alfie, my collie, seems to be reluctant to go out walking on lead now. He’s 5 years old and used to get really excited when it was time to go for our regular walks. I take him out for an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening. We used to go to the park, but he was attacked (not seriously) by another dog and since then we have been road walking on lead. Sometimes I have to use treats to coax him to go out. I have had him checked by the vet and he is in good health.
A Collies are high-energy dogs and need lots of exercise as well as mental stimulation. Alfie was happy to go to the park with you, but since he had a bad experience there you (and he) obviously want to avoid a repetition of the incident. Quite often when we take our dogs out for a walk from home, we go the same route so often that it becomes monotonous. Dogs can become bored with treading the same paths, just as we do and need a bit of variety to satisfy their natural instincts. Collies are working dogs and are happy to work from dawn to dusk, so a domestic pet collie needs to be motivated and use up its energy. The outings need to be fun and challenging for you both. Simply by taking different routes introduces more interest and new smells. Practice basic training skills during the walk and maybe find a few other parks where you can play and interact together. A short car journey to new places may be all that is required to rekindle Alfie’s enthusiasm to go out.
It is worth pointing out that if we, as dog owners, do the same things and go the same places day in day out, we too become bored and this transmits to our dogs. Try to introduce new games, teach him to find his ball or a toy that you hide – don’t forget that dogs can find things at all levels so don’t always hide the toy on the ground. Dogs can easily pick up the scent of a toy if it is in a tree or on a fence, for example.
Keep the walks short at first so that you finish with Alfie still wanting more. Instead of him being bored and lethargic, motivate him to want to do things with you. Structured lead walking is an essential ingredient of good dog behaviour, but so too is allowing the dog to run and play. Once a dog knows your rules and boundaries, he will respond with enthusiasm, because if he works well for you, you will want to build your relationship and have even more fun together.