April 1st, 2012

planet

loose leash training vs. my stupid dog

I've been trying really hard to take my dog for a walk every day, even though time is short and my dog is a shithead. I walk in after work every night like a CELEBRITY, Josie is shrieking "mama!" and climbs into my lap and we read books but eventually I have to tear away.

My dog is kinda stupid. Why'd we get a puppy again? I honestly keep forgetting. I really wish we'd gotten one of those pre-trained dogs from the prison program, or an older dog... I guess we got a puppy because I read that if they grew up with guinea pigs, they'd be less likely to eat them. Also, cuteness. Dammit.

So anyway Judy was sort of the "special one" in our dog training class. She wasn't food-motivated and had an awful time with just basic "paying attention" sorts of things. Maybe it's just her, but maybe it's the fact that during her first four months of life she was abandoned on a road, found in "bad shape", fostered by some nice family to health, and put up for adoption... that's a lot to go on during some formative weeks.

But we are making a tiny bit of progress on the leash thing, the other day we went on a walk and I still felt like my arm and shoulder would stay attached to me by the end! Here are the strategies we're combining...

My neighbor's advice: use a very short leash. I'm actually folding ours in half, running it through her collar, and clipping it to a keyring I put on the handle. It helps your dog know where she's supposed to be and perceive where you are.

Dog training class advice: If the dog pulls, stop walking. This results in a very slow start for us, every time. But the theory is that walking is a reward, and if you reward pulling on the leash, the dog just thinks this is what going for a walk is all about.

A bunch of you recommended Cesar Millan and he says to remain authoritative and confident on a walk, show that you're the leader... I sort of do that, but also do a lot of getting down on Judy's level for praise and to pet her, especially if she's distracted or scared (she has issues passing parked cars), I'll squat down and call her and remind her that she's walking with me and not everything else in the world. He did say to make sure the collar fits high up on their neck to reduce pulling power, and that helps, if it slips down around the dog's shoulders you've basically got a sled dog harness going and they can pull like crazy. My roomate's dog used to pull so hard at the leash all the time we got a walking harness because it gave us more control but looking back, that makes it harder for the dog to sense what you want.

We're making progress. I used to say I had the worst crazy dog in the neighborhood, we'd pass these people out walking their dogs so nicely and here I'd have crazy judy, barking her head off and trying to strangle herself. But just yesterday, we passed some teenagers with a dog and Judy walked by with less distraction, and their dogs were going crazy... whoh! Maybe it's gonna be okay.