How to Walk a Basset Hound

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A lot of people think basset hounds are lazy and sedentary dogs who prefer naps to walks. Nothing could be further from the truth. This perception is probably due to the basset's appearance. Even basset hound puppies have an old, wrinkled and tubby look to them. But put a basset hound in an open field and you will find otherwise as you see instinct kick in. The physical characteristics of the breed are deceptive. These dogs were originally bred for the hunt, to track with their superior sense of smell and short, agile bodies their master's kill. Exercise is very important for this breed, so don't let a basset spend all his time napping. Take him for a walk.

Things You'll Need

  • Leash with a body harness
  • Start training a basset hound early. This is true of every breed, but as any professional obedience trainer will tell you, the basset hound is one of the more tenacious and stubborn breeds, and one of the hardest to train, so you must start early and stick to your training. Use simple commands such as "sit," "stay" and "come" over and over, and give small treats as rewards. Eventually the basset should obey your commands without the expectation of treats.

  • Use a leash with a body harness when walking a basset hound. A body harness is necessary because a simple neck-collar leash can hurt a dog's neck and spine when you tug on it or if they try to run away. A stubborn basset is also more apt to slip out of a collar, but it's almost impossible to slip out of a snug harness. Just be sure not to rig the harness too tightly.

  • Don't force a basset to walk as fast as other dogs. Basset hounds have thick bodies and short legs. Due to their short stride they cannot keep the pace one might expect when walking a dog. Also, bassets are scent dogs. They have a stronger sense of smell than any other dog except their longer-legged cousin the bloodhound. It brings any hound dog joy to track a scent, so the breed is apt to run off in chase of something, which makes it extra important to keep a firm grip on the leash. Sometimes you'll need to let the basset linger on the closer-by scents for a while, because she gets great joy from checking her pee-mail from friends in the neighborhood.

  • Increase the enjoyment of your walk by learning the unique traits and characteristics of the basset hound. As mentioned above, bassets are a stubborn breed. They were initially bred to track scents in the field to find their master's kill but ended up becoming a popular breed of house dog. Instinctively they want to use their sense of smell to please their master, as well as to find tasty morsels for themselves in the neighbor's garbage. If there is a dead rodent in the vicinity a basset hound will let you know. After all, that is their job: finding the kill. They won't howl at the neighbor's garbage, though; they'll just go ahead and dig in if you let them.

  • If you're looking for a guard dog to protect you on your walk, don't get a basset hound. Despite the stubborn tenacity born of the basset's nose, they are one of the most non-aggressive breeds of dog on the planet. They were bred to run in a pack and find things, not to protect or fight for them. Basset hounds display a loving and intense devotion to their owners and are very social creatures. Their long ears, droopy eyes and short legs make the breed an attention-getter in public, especially with kids.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always make sure your basset has up-to-date vaccinations and visible tags.
  • Never yank or jerk hard on a leash, as this can cause skin abrasions and spinal injuries. Walk with a taut leash so your basset knows you are in control.
  • Photo Credit photo of Geraldine taken by the author
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