Sunday, March 6, 2011

2 dogs- 2 walking styles

Well actually that isn't true. They both pull, I mean walk, the same. Even though neither dog weighs very much I feel like I am being pulled apart at the seams when I try and walk them on a flat collar. 

I have never been able to teach Valkyrie to walk politely on a leash. This is probably more my fault than hers. As I have stated before- I had no idea about dog training when I brought Valkyrie home. I don't even think I made an effort to train her to do anything at all until she was nearly two years old.  I didn't make a serious effort to train her to do anything until she was four years old and all hell broke loose and a training intervention was desperately needed. Somehow I have put agility titles on this dog and can't manage to teach her to walk nicely on a leash? There is something very wrong with this picture. 
Quite a few years ago I bought a gentle leader for Valkyrie. She nearly ripped her face off. No amount of cookies was going to be good enough to properly acclimate her to this new head halter. I needed a way to walk her without having my shoulder pulled out of its socket. I tried a choke collar. And it worked. But I felt terrible about using it. Once Valkyrie figured out that I wasn't going to follow through with the "pop" of the choke collar she leaned in real hard and would choke herself. For a long time I just left her on a flat collar and let her yank me around. Last summer I discovered the sense-ation harness. I decided to try it out. Valkyrie certainly isn't a saint on a leash now(also more my fault than hers) but I can walk her without injuring myself.  She doesn't pull as much as before and now I have more control when she does pull. I plan on working more with her in this harness and maybe by summertime we will have mastered the art of loose leash walking. 

Kieran is also a master puller. He has had a rough start- he's been very sick with inflammatory bowel disease(IBD) but that topic is a whole other post or ten by itself- but that certainly doesn't break his pulling spirit. He has places to go and people to meet and it all has to be done before the end of the walk. I planned to buy Kieran a sense-ation harness since I liked how well it worked with Valkyrie. But money has been tight so I decided to try the gentle leader on Kieran. He certainly was not thrilled with it initially. However, he can be bought. Just a few minutes each day over the course of a couple days I was able to convince him that every time the head halter went on he would get something very yummy. Yesterday we went on our first walk. I won't call it a phenomenal success but it was definitely progress. I know I need to work with him by himself to get it just right. He didn't pull once he realized that it wasn't going to get him anywhere. Right now with the limited amount of daylight I walk the dogs together. Once there is more daylight I plan to walk the dogs individually to work on their loose leash walking. Kieran and I are also going to attend a loose leash walking seminar next weekend. Crossing fingers and paws that we learn something(and then apply it!)

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