Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Loose Leash Walking Is Sheer Joy-Even When It Snows!

Obviously with the girls challenging me to walk 30 miles in 30 days we have been doing a lot of walking. And we have been doing a lot of L2 Loose Leash work for Maizey.

It is so fascinating to walk to the two pups. They are such different walking styles. Meeka is like taking a walk with the significant one in your life where you stroll together holding hands, and while you are enjoying each others company you don't have to worry about each other. It's like that stroll with your loved one where you mutually know how fast to go, and when the other is getting tired. It is ultimate peace to walk with Meeka.
Just a Friendly stroll by the river

Maizey? Oh Maizey is like trying to walk a kite on a gusty windy day. It is an experience in a whole other realm. Walking Maizey consists of watching Maizey's body language for reactivity, watching her feet so they don't get under my feet, watching the environment to anticiapte what might set her off, reeling the leash in cause she is determined use her 9 pounds to drag my. . .well considerably more than 9 pounds right off my feet! Walking Maizey has been an exercise in thinking and self control. But yes I said has been, because she is making progress in leaps and bounds!(No pun intended and insert me cheering and sighing in relief here!)

The progress has come from following more good Training Levels advice. In the Training Levels Book L2 Leash is states, "Once the dog is comfortable with the leash, she'll start pulling on it to get where she wants to go. Now we run smack up against a point of view problem. YOU see "She's not going to make ME go faster than I want to go! We'll go at MY speed" and SHE sees "Man, this human is so slow, I have to pull really hard to get him to go anywhere!" And there's the key right there. Are you going to tell her that she HAS to pull to get anywhere? Or are you going to tell her that pulling NEVER gets her anywhere, that the ONLY way to get where she wants to go is by giving you a loose leash? Look on today as the first day of the rest of the dog's life. From now on, a tight leash will never, NEVER, NEVER go where the dog wants it to go."(Italics mine) The answer is as soon as the leash tightens up you walk backwards, away from what she is fixated on pulling you towards. You keep walking backwards until her attention is back on you. But you can look up the details in Sue's Levels
But how could we have a nice long walk where she gets some energy out and still never go anywhere on a tight leash? Trust me for a while we spent more time walking backwards than forwards! Then I read the advice to let the pup walk however she wants on a harness and do the serious training with the leash and on the buckle collar. I must admit I was hesitant, could a dog really tell the difference between the harness and collar. But I tried it. And it is a thing of beauty! Walks with Maizey are now starting to feel more like that comfortable stroll with my friend instead of chasing a kite in the wind. 

We start every walk w/ a quick session of "Watch"
 "Maizey? Watch Me!"

Then when she's focused we start the walk on the Puppia Harness.

When she is on the Puppia Harness we do no training except to c/t when she looks at me.
  "See me Mom, I'm watching you. Now fork over the chicken liver cheerios!"
"MMMM! Chicken Liver's my favorite it stinks sooo good!"

Then when she has settled down and can focus on me I switch to the buckle collar and continue to c/t when she looks at me. But the second that leash gets tight I backup. I don't say anything but I keep walking backwards. (Yes my neighbors think I'm nuts and that the dog can only walk backwards down the street, but they already thought I was a "crazy dog lady!"LOL) Then when she keys back into me I c/t her glance at me and w/ out saying anything start walking forward again. It is so simple and she loves it. We have taken our longest and most relaxed walks in the last week or so and yesterday she actually walked over half a mile loose leashed on her buckle collar and we only backed up once at a distance of about 20 feet, then she sailed right past the distraction that had her pulling just seconds before!

This is what the sheer joy of loose leash walking in the snow looks like:


Priscilla said...

Hi! Can't believe we've found a rottie blog!!
Laura says hi to Meeka. How old is she?
I love your header pic, it shows what a gentle creature a rottie is. :) Nice to meet you.

katie said...

Priscilla and Laura, WELCOME! Meeka is our rescue victory story so we don't know how old for sure, maybe 8 probably 9:( but in my head she's forever 2.LOL She is such a mild baby, and just the joy of my life. What about your girl? She's a shelty right? Do you have any other four legged friends? Feel free to check back soon, we'd always love to hear from you!

Marie said...

I think your 30 day challenge is a great idea, and to hear that you are already having so much success in improving Maizey's Loose Leash Walking is super!

Cynthia Blue said...

I admire you with the LLW! I am no good at it, and I don't have the persistence to keep at it. Jet is a maniac on a harness or a collar... so I usually have him on his harness or in a halti. :p I'm a lazy person.

katie said...

:)Cynthia, I can't really take too much credit for her LLW progress-really I should probably give the credit to you for recommending her puppia harness!LOL It has made all the difference in the world!

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Lessons From and For 4 Legs has moved to a new address: Where we will continue to learn life's lessons from my little Cavalier King Charles Spaniel's, Maizey and Magnus. Don't miss Meeka's lessons too, by checking the archives of my big girl rescue Rottie. They all teach me so much!