My husband’s nephew N— has two fine looking Wiener dogs and like most Wiener-owned, he is obviously smitten. But as he posted on Facebook last week, he’s got a problem. Whenever he walks his kids they bark so much and so aggressively at any other dogs being walked, that people actually pull off the path to steer clear of them.
He wants to know what to do.
Actually Nick, I don’t have a clue. I just gave up walking my Wieners years ago. The primary reason we live as far from civilization as we can get is so I don’t have to walk my dogs. They have one acre of mountaintop woodland to run, hunt squirrels, mice, dig holes that make the ground look like a tiny mad backhoe operator has gone berserk, and generally terrorize anything that foolishly sets paw in their domain. They get to take rides to town, and visit family. Some of them wouldn’t know a leash from a bungy cord. We call them Free Spirits. Of course, in the trade that’s known as untrained. Practically a Capital offence.
I did try to walk them all once. I hooked up Fritz, Franny, Mokie, Mercedes and Izzy to 5 separate leashes and started out down the dirt road towards a neighbor’s house. Naturally they all pulled in different directions. And it wasn’t like I convinced myself beforehand they would all fan out in front of me and form a Texas boot-scoot dance line. We probably looked like a 6 headed Hydra undulating down the road. I thought it was pretty funny in its Wienerness until the neighbor’s Chihuahua got a look at us.
Now if there’s anything more crackbrained than a Dachshund when it comes to other dogs, it’s a Chihuahua. That 6 pounds of furious indignation came running and barking at the Wieners without a thought to its personal safety, and the Wieners, in a rare show of cooperation, decided they would eat it. Luckily, everybody, including me and the neighbor, go so tangled up in the leashes during the melee that nobody got seriously hurt. She finally got ahold of her little yapper, and we both walked away with our dogs with sheepish back -glances, because we both knew the dogs were just doing what dogs do.
That doesn’t mean Dachshunds can’t be trained to walk a leash and be polite to other dogs. It just means it’s not in their nature and you have to start really early in their education, like when they’re 16 weeks old, to walk them. How do you do this? First you teach them to follow you without a leash. This is easy at 8 weeks because they adore and worship you and will follow you just like their Mum. You re-enforce with treats of course, because the distance between the Wiener’s olfactory glands and brain is…well, there is no distance. Their nose is their brain. Next, at about 10 weeks you clip on a short lead and let him run around with it, get used to it. Keep him next to you on his lead whenever you’re sitting doing something, even clipped to your desk leg. Or kitchen chair. Your wrist. Make him happy to be there, even while restrained. Next take him for walks carrying him. Let him experience you meeting and greeting people and other dogs without any intense behaviors, all while he’s safely tucked under your arm. If he growls or whines, correct him with a sharp word. Treats when he acts civilized. (BTW, the most effective treat to use is the one that is the worst for him and you: a hot dog. Naturally. Used in show rings. VERY tiny pieces.) By the time he is 16 weeks old he knows the routine and you can walk him right up close to your side, collar snug under his jaw, no free ranging all over the place.
All I can suggest you do at this point is start all over like they’re babies, and hope it takes. Right now every time you take them out and they get to rearrange the traffic just by acting squirrely you re- enforce every bad behavior they’re gleefully exhibiting. You yell and pull and act pissed and then you keep walking!! Then you take them out again the next day and they get to do it all over again! In Wiener World, you are TELLING THEM THIS IS WHAT YOU LIKE! They even think you like to yell and pull, because you keep doing it! And so they do their part and keep it up. They actually think they are behaving the way you want. They are showing you the love. Because the little Wiener brain takes every action, not words, at face value.
And that’s why we love them, once we get it.