Yesterday we took Saffi on her first, much-anticipated, walk. We packed poo bags and treats and off we went. Admittedly we didn’t do as much lead training in the house as we ought to have done and this most definitely impacted how Saffi reacted to being restrained by the lead. She went a bit bananas, flipping and pulling and each and every time she did this we stopped walking until she calmed down. It took us 15 minutes to reach the end of the road!

We tried holding the lead in our right hand with the lead trailing across our body with Saffi walking on our left. We treated her for walking well when she trotted along next to us. We’ve also decided, given we live near some busy roads, that we’d like her to sit at each road crossing. We gave her a treat when she did this.

Eventually we got to Barnes Common and once we were a safe distance from the road we let her off the lead… and this is where we all really started to enjoy the walk. Saffi bounced, bunny hopped, ‘killed’ the leaves in her path and took turns running between us. She loved it and we did too. Each time we called her and she came we gave her a treat – she cottoned on pretty quickly.

Saffi about to be let off the lead

We reached a field where there was a girls’ football match going on – two groups of girls were huddled receiving their half-time pep talk from their coach. With hindsight we should have put Saffi back on the lead because she launched herself into the middle of the group enthusiastically licking and snuffling all the girls. The poor coach struggled to keep her team members’ attention as they all wanted to cuddle Saffi – we called her several times but she ignored us and eventually I had to walk into the middle of the circle to collect her. The embarrassment!

On her walk Saffi met a large female Boxer, a very tall male Russian Borzoi, a nervy black rescue dog and a ginormous Alsatian cross who galloped towards us to play, practically giving me heart failure and making Saffi squeal with anxiety. With Saffi hidden behind my legs, the Alsatian’s owners called him back and were quick to explain to us that he’s very gentle with puppies but unfortunately tends to scare them away because of his size. We lured the two of them together with treats and after a few minutes they were playing and Saffi’s fears were quelled.

When other dogs crossed our path I shouted to their owners in advance to reaching them in order to find out if their dogs are ok with puppies. You’d think it would be safe to assume that if a dog is off the lead then it is friendly but unfortunately this is not always the case so it pays to be prudent. If an owner were to reply that their dog doesn’t get on with other dogs we’d put Saffi on the lead and ask the other dog’s owners to do the same thing – we’ve been advised against picking Saffi up in this instance. At this age it would be so easy to do but there’s the risk it will reinforce any trepidation she has about other dogs and we want her to be well socialised.

Marcus & Saffi on Barnes Common

We put Saffi back on the lead and led her home. Now tired she was a lot better on the lead and the route back took a lot less time than on the outward journey. We quickly changed & gave the cats and Saffi their lunch.

Feeding time ‘at the zoo’

Then we were out again for a family Mother’s Day celebration. My sister Alex found a local dog-friendly restaurant and after five minutes’ of excitement upon arrival Saffi swiftly conked out… for three hours. She received lots of attention from the restaurant staff and when they came for a cuddle whilst she was asleep she woke and quickly snuggled in their arms with a wagging tail and lots of licks.

Saffi at ‘Le P’tit Normand’ in Wandsworth


We were delighted that she behaved so well – we really want to be able to carry on doing the things we enjoy and as a family we love to eat out! Our only issue? Saffi didn’t want to go for a wee outside the restaurant which meant that by the time we got home she was bursting. Perhaps she doesn’t like pavement…?


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