Dartmouth dogs get social on group hike

Jan 21, 2023

Dogs of all shapes and sizes gathered at the Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust’s Ridge Hill Reserve on Saturday morning, Jan. 21 for a guided group dog walk hosted by Dartmouth dog trainers from OutHound Adventure and Training Academy.

Tim Riendeau, the Co-founder of OutHounds and leader of the walk, said that the group tries to hold similar excursions at local hiking trails once or twice a week, usually on the weekends.

Riendeau explained that the walks are not training sessions but are intended more for socialization and exercise purposes — and not just for the dogs.

“It’s more of a social group that we do,” he said. “We just like to do it because it’s very therapeutic for the dogs and the people.”

The walk, which covered about four miles, took the pups and their owners through the forest, past a beach, and over several brooks and streams, providing lots of fun for two- and four-legged hikers alike.

Though some loud noises could be heard from the nearby Rod and Gun Club of New Bedford, surprising some cautious canines, all the furry friends were able to overcome their fears and finish the walk with confidence.

Riendeau said that those kinds of stimuli are part of his philosophy of taking “safe risks” with pets in the program, exposing them to potential anxiety triggers in controlled settings where the risk of a negative outcome is low.

One of the more nervous pups, a rescue named Lola, froze up briefly as the path veered closer to the distant gunshots, but was able to recover and finish her walk strong with encouragement from the rest of the group.

One of the hikers added that she also liked the safety and security of walking with company.

“I love these hikes because, as a woman, I don’t always feel comfortable hiking alone, and I don’t always know the trails,” she said. “So it’s nice to be with a group.”

For more information or to register for an OutHounds hike, visit outhoundsadventureacademy.com and click on the “Events” tab.