Helen – A Walk In The Park

March 4, 2020

We recently learned that placing well-trained dogs into a new environment can be a challenge. Our two Labradors have loved the move from an urban setting to a more rural one. They’ve been enjoying all the new smells and the critters to bark at and chase. The result being that even the simplest of walks can bring new challenges.

One of our favorite places to walk is Helen. It’s a great place to take our dogs because there is so much for them to do. We will break down the routine so you can give it a try with your dog in Helen or elsewhere.

The store owners and city workers do a good job of keeping Helen clean for tourists so our first consideration is to ensure our pups have had the opportunity to take care of business at home before we set out (though if accidents happen, we are prepared to clean up). We aim to be in Helen earlier in the morning as it is less busy and temperatures are not too hot for the walk. The dogs must be on their leash and we use a harness; it gives us more control and we prefer the only thing hanging from the collar to be the name tag.

Introduce your dog slowly to the environment. We park away from the town center and walk in. This gives us the chance to see ahead of time if there’s something that we need to be aware of. Distance is always our friend, and we look for ways to create space between our dogs and potential triggers. It is too late to train a behavior if the dog has already gotten too excited. While we are out, we practice many of the skills that we teach our clients:
“Look at that” to practice calmly looking at people, dogs, or other novel items like a horse & carriage.
“This way” so we can walk away from the things that capture our pups’ attention.
Stop and Sit for petting or simply before crossing the street.
For fun and the chance to earn more treats, there are always obstacles
to walk around, jump over, and step on and off.

You can pretty much guarantee that we will see another dog. If we think that our dogs won’t do well being too close then we cross the street or change direction. We walk down the side streets and toward the river, letting them stop to sniff along the way.

We want the walk to be a fun experience for humans and animals, so we always try to quit while we are ahead and not push our dogs too far. We enjoy our walks in Helen and seeing people experience the city. We also enjoy seeing how our dogs handle the sights, sounds, smells, and people, too.

Other places for a nearby walk are Ana Ruby Falls, the Hardman Trail, and Smithgall Woods.