If you are looking for a serious workout, try hiking with Romeo! What's the old Navy slogan, “It's not just a job. It's an adventure.” Yep, same goes for hiking with Romeo. (October 2010)
For starters, Romeo doesn't do anything in a leisurely fashion. He has two speeds: full steam ahead and sleeping. (Don't be fooled though, he can go from sleep mode to full steam ahead in 0.75 seconds.) Leisurely hikes are not really Romeo's thing. That's fine, I like to get in a good workout. Trouble is, the faster I go, the faster he wants to go. So no matter how great I think I'm cruising along, I always feel slow next to him. He's the guy who always needs to show you up. Whatever you can do, I can do faster!
I had Romeo on his harness attached to me by a waist belt and carabiners with a ten foot line between us. In theory, the waist belt is great because I don't have to carry the leash in my hands. In reality, well, there might be a flaw or two.
Imagine, if you will, trying to propel yourself forward (in this case, running) while at the same time holding yourself back (from being dragged face first into the dirt) while on a sandy trail that really provides very little traction should you actually need to stop yourself and the untamed 1200 pound wild horse to which you are attached. Ok, I admit Romeo does not actually weight 1200 pounds, but you try running behind him and try to stop with him still full steam ahead and tell me it doesn't feel like 1200 pounds.
That's just when he's excited about following the trail. Now, imagine he just spotted a chipmunk (with whom he has only had very brief encounters and which therefore gets him even more excited than he already was) and imagine what it is like trying to stop that forward momentum.
Doesn't sound challenging enough? Don't forget about the sandy trail that makes traction difficult and when you are running already, makes it feel more like trying to stop and stand still on a treadmill that's still moving.
What, still not challenging enough for you? Ok, how about the chipmunk who darts off to the side, so not only are you trying to stop that forward momentum, but now that 1200 pound wild horse just made a turn-on-a-dime adjustment and is heading at a 90 degree angle to where your body is going?
I think you're beginning to get the picture, though nothing compares to the actual experience.
My point, however belabored it is, is that hiking with Romeo is nothing like hiking on your own. Trying to keep him exercised will do one of two things to me: get me in better shape than I have been in for years, or be the death of me.
I know I made hiking with Romeo sound like this horrible ordeal, but in reality, I (mostly) enjoy getting out with him. And the more we get out, overall, the better he gets. That's the tricky part with adolescent dogs. You might avoid taking them out because they can be a handful and then some. But you need to get them out to practice, practice, practice.
He's actually much more responsive than he used to be, and he's great at checking in and waiting when asked. It's just hard to control that enthusiasm when he gets really excited. But that's one of the things I love about him – his enthusiasm for life!