Monday, March 14, 2011

Loose leash

Kieran and I went to a loose leash training class offered by the pet store near us. It was useless. I was very disappointed. Thankfully it was only ten dollars and Kieran got some exercise and sunshine out of it. Kieran, of course, was an angel on his leash. I even had him on just the flat collar. I was hoping for lots of doggy distractions but there was only one other dog in the class. A deaf dalmatian puppy. The trainer worked mostly with the other dog because she was a serious puller. Everything the trainer said to teach your dog to walk on a loose leash I already knew- stopping forward progress when the leash gets tight, turning and walking the other way, rewards for walking with a loose leash, etc.  I guess we are just going to have to work really hard on this by ourselves.

It's very hard for me to train with Kieran since he has so many food allergies and has a seriously sensitive stomach. Any little change gives him an upset tummy. He has little to no toy drive so finding the right reward is tough. Then one of my rescue friends mentioned that I should try baking Kieran's canned dog food(Evo 95% salmon&herring) to make into treats since I already know that it doesn't upset his stomach. Brilliant! I wish I had thought of this myself months ago. I am currently trying to find the right way to bake it so that it doesn't stay all mushy. Eventually I will find the perfect formula.

I made a small amount of baked treats for Kieran and we went out for our afternoon walk. My goodness! What a difference. I know that food rewards are an amazing thing but Kieran probably could have gotten some amazing scores for competition heeling. He walked almost the entire walk by my side. The next day I did the same thing but apparently food appeal can only go so far. Kieran didn't pull but he wasn't glued to my side either. He would wander out front for a few strides and then jump back into position at my side. I'll take it. I am verbally praising him as well when he is in a position I like. I am still using the head halter with him just in case of serious distractions on our walks. Dogs, people and little critters(birds and squirrels) are going to be hard for him to overcome. Kieran spins and whines when he sees any of these things on our walks. Having food has definitely helped. People became a lot less interesting and dogs became a little less interesting (depending partly on Valkyrie's reaction to the other dog). Food had absolutely no effect on the squirrels and birds. But I have seen some amazing progress with food on just two walks. We could be on our way to a very blissful walking relationship.

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