Thursday, November 12, 2009
Loose leash walking means bringing your hot beverage with you.
It was so nice to be outside on my morning walk with Beckett, it was a little overcast, but it was still nice. Something about just getting outside, stretching my legs, a big cup of tea in my hand. Its so peaceful.
During our walk, we ran into another dog, Ginger, you might ask how I knew her name was Ginger. Is it because I stopped to ask? No, I know her name is Ginger because her owner was using "the voice" (you know the one, the one used when discussing loudly usually with your significant other but it could also be a family member, but not yelling, at least not for another two seconds). Ginger was going for a squirrel, tugging at the end of her leash, exuberant and happy. The owner was holding on for dear life, tugging her collar with hard jerks almost yelling, "Ginger don't you dare!" "Don't even...."
Then Ginger saw us. With the biggest smile, she perked her ears wagged her tail, then she turned on a dime and switched directions - hard. My own shoulder gave tug in sympathy to the owner. Who yelled "Ginger!" and jerked the dog hard once again. The owner looked - stressed. The kind of stress that that raises ones blood pressure. The dog? Actually not so much, she seemed just fine.
Beckett and I calmly walked away, giving Ginger and her owner space. I had a dog cookie out and in my hand gave Beckett a couple pieces in my non-tea holding hand and we just walked on by. I love loose leash walking. It makes my walks fun, calm, enjoyable, and relaxing.
Here is how I did it, maybe not the best way, but it worked for me.
Supplies: One 6ft solid leash (No flexi leads: ever),Three plastic bags, and an Optional harness (something to consider if you have a real puller like ginger).
The best time to start is in the morning, but before dinner will work too. You want your pup hungry. Take his meal and split it into two of the three plastic bags. (1/2 kibble in one) (1/2 kibble in the other). The third bag is for treats which should be kibble sized, so cut, tear, or break them up into small pieces. Put the bag of treats in one pocket, open and ready, the bags of kibble in the other. If your dog has a leash hooked to the collar, from now on (at least until you wean away the kibble) you should be dispensing kibble.
So now you think of yourself as a kibble dispenser, your task is to feed all the dog food to him or her during the walk, piece by piece which means you'll be giving kibble with almost every step. Don't be stingy, give out the food as quickly as possible. Your mission should be to feed ALL the kibble while the dog is by your side.
Your handing out kibble with each step, is your dog by your side? you betcha! Suddenly the pup sniffs something interesting and tugs away from you. Do not let the dog pull! Stand your ground and then a step backward and another, when the dog comes back to your side, start the kibble feeding, and approach where ever he or she wanted to go, when he tugs again, walk backwards again. Eventually you should with a loosh leash be walking to the smelly spot. If its to hard, start from further away from the spot of interest. Let the pup get where s/he wants to go, but don't let him/her get there by pulling.
So now you see a squirrel (actually any big distraction squirrel, other dog, fire truck, whatever) reach into the treat bag instead of the kibble bag. Now start dispensing treats with ever step, when you pass the squirrel or dog, or whatever else, change back to feeding kibble. When you finish your first bag of kibble its time to turn around and walk home using the second bag of kibble. This makes sure you have enough kibble for the entire walk.
As time goes by, you'll use less and less kibble (this takes weeks or even months) slowly increasing the time between the kibble pieces, so that your either taking longer walks, or using less kibble. You can eventually use no kibble at all! Though I keep a few treats in my pocket, because it makes walks more fun.
It would probably go faster with a clicker, but rolling out of bed and putting dog food into two bags is all I'm good for in the mornings.
There is a potential negative side effect with this technique - your dog might not want to leave your side...