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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What's Your Weakness?

Did you hear that Chance?  She's going to try again.  BOL


OK, give it up.  What is your worst weakness with your dog?  What do you struggle the most with when it comes to training your dog?  My weakness is training a dog to walk on a leash.  There I said it.  My neighbors could get a couple good YouTube videos of my dogs pulling me down the road, jerking me this way and that.  Watching me trying to hold these 80 pound beast while they pull with all their might to get closer to that important scent that they just have to check out.  I have tried everything and still can't get it right.  My husband laughed at me today when I told him I needed to hire a trainer so I can learn how to walk my dogs!!  I didn't think it was very funny at the time.

Since the Back Dogs have been with me since they were puppies, we have found a kind of happy medium.  Usually the first quarter mile is the worse, and then we seem to fall into a quick pace while we negotiate whose pulling who.  But the Front Dogs....Lord have mercy!!  After two years they still shoot out of the gate like a couple of thoroughbreds.  Their previous owners never leashed trained, let both dogs run loose and with my training handicap we look like a couple of crazy cartoon characters flying down the road.  It doesn't help that Blaze and Chance are my two main sled dogs and think every walk means pulling me down the road at top notch speed.  They know no difference between the leash and the harness, all they see is glorious freedom and the room to run.

Honestly though it is extremely frustrating for me.  Try as I might to change these habits, I fall into the same trap of giving in.  I get tired of fighting with them and they know eventually I will cave.  Every winter with the danger of snow and ice, I vow to teach them to walk properly. After a couple of months, I give up.  By then it is close to spring and all my hard work is down the drain and we resume with push and pull walking.

My biggest problems are of course consistency, along with discipline and impatience.  When I go for a walk, I just want to go for a walk.  I don't want to train or correct, I just want to enjoy the walk.  Which would be great if I was really enjoying being pulled on our walks and so I find myself at the crossroads again.  I'm starting with Chance and Blaze, (yes, I am glutton for punishment) by walking them in the yard while trying to curb that jump start out of the gate.  Today was a success.  Both did very well.  I left the gate open, while walking around the yard and slowly continued to inch out the gate, over and over.  I only used treats at the end of each of our walks.

It is a start.  Blaze will of course be my worse case.  She has the drive and tunnel vision of a racer.  She is also smart as whip, gets bored easy, and is already figuring out ways to outsmart me, in less than ten minutes. She knows what a pushover I am and how to push my buttons.  Well, the challenge is on.  We'll just see how much we butt heads this time around.  I have nothing to lose and everything to gain.           

13 comments:

Painter Pack said...

I just know woo can do it! Oh, wait...these dogs have Sibe blood!! Forget it! Woo is doomed!!!
*snickers*

Mya Boo Boo

Lavi said...

Ouch, you seem to have the same problem as me. Only don't have any excuse, my dog is still pretty small. But she has the energy of 10 dogs put together when we go out.

Good luck with that and I hope you will make good progress with your dogs!

Pamela said...

You mean you only have one weakness! Good for you!

I can relate (to the pulling; not to only having one weakness). My dog Christie pulled so hard people thought we were killing her from the choking sounds she made (we finally got help with a gentle leader snoot loop). My last dog, Shadow, pulled until my hands were bleeding (leather leashes helped). Even Honey who is nearly perfect in every way, pulls more than I want.

Consistency is key. But the trainer at the local shelter made a really great suggestion that I've started using. Use the Easy Walk Harness when you need to take your dog somewhere but don't have time to stop and start while training. That way, you don't mess up your training just because you're in a rush. Or just put it on when you're tired of training and need a break.

It's really helping me to have an option that I an rely on when we're not doing active training.

If you haven't seen one, here's a link: http://www.buygentleleader.com/View.aspx?page=dogs/products/behavior/easywalk/productdescription.

Most dogs take to it easily without special preparation and it really works!

Oh yeah, and I think there are some dogs incapable of walking without pulling. So don't be too hard on yourself.

ForPetsSake said...

What a chord this struck with me. I'll admit the same weakness and I struggle with it constantly. I'm sure the train - give up - train -give up cycle is further reinforcing the pulling, but I just get lazy :(

Kira said...

I totally sympathize with you on this one! We were making some progress on loose leash walking with a flat collar instead of the easy walk, but then I got hurt...and since then I have been using the Easy Walk harness for my protection... I know SOMEDAY we will master loose leash walking! Just probably not any day soon ;)

Kira

Kristine said...

While we have worked a lot on pulling and Shiva is pretty good about that, something I have only just started to work on is actual heeling. If we are ever going to compete in agility properly, ie. without looking like idiots, we are going to have to nail this off-leash staying by my side thing. It's been almost two years and only now am I realising how important it is.

Better late than never?

Irritation is movtivation, I find. The more a behaviour bothers you, the more you are motivated to fix it. Since pulling doesn't annoy you as much as other things, you just haven't cared enough to work on it. This isn't a bad thing, I don't think. They are your dogs after all! You're the one walking them. :-)

Barbara said...

My weakness is training my dogs at all. They aren't horrible, but they don't know any of the normal commands, and it's my fault.

houndstooth said...

Both Bunny and Morgan came to us with little or no leash manners. I started with a Freedom harness on Bunny, which is a no pull harness. It improved her leash manners immensely, and now she really doesn't need it, although she wears it in certain situations. Morgan wears a training collar or I'd never be able to hold on to her. She's strong enough that she's knocked my husband on his butt when she went after a rabbit. I know some people don't like them, but the training collar has been our best friend. Would things be different if we'd had her since she was a puppy? Yes, for sure, but we started after she had an adult body with a puppy brain, so we have to work from there.

Wyatt said...

heehee, we have the same problem...and no excuses. We have been to training, multiple times. It does take a tremendous amount of work and patience, and consistency. We try to get around the work, with fancy harnesses and halti head harnesses. We seemed doomed to waterskiing our way through life!!

Wyatt's Mom

Wyatt's Mom

24 Paws of Love said...

Prisicilla-no I don't only have one weakness, I only have enough blog room to be able to talk about one!! :) Thanks for the harness info and the tip. I really like that idea.

Kristine-I have to agree with you. We only change something when it hurts enough. I just keep hoping for that magic wand that will fix it!! :)

Love the way you put that, Wyatt, waterskiing through life. We know how that its.

Sometimes it is good just not be alone with our struggles. Thank you all for sharing.

Inky and Molly said...

We like to pull our pinkie around as well. We have tackled her to the ground before, all we need is a cat to be nearby...
We do switch on though when she commands us BEFORE leaving the house. We got to sit, wait, get a treat, she takes the first step out, we follow. If that doesn't happen before we leave, well we think anything goes...
We like to give her more of a hard time when there is two or more of us. By ourselves we tend to cooperate more, it's just not as much fun then...
good luck!

Pup Fan said...

Hmmm... good question! My weakness is probably training in general, though I'm better on some things than others. What I really need to do is train Bella not to go crazy when the doorbell rings... most of our friends have adapted and just call when they arrive so I can let them in with no doorbell or knocking, but that doesn't help when the doorbell does ring. I need to work with her so she doesn't get so worked up. I'll admit I'm sometimes lazy though - she's the easiest dog I've ever had, which has led me to be more lax than I normally would I think.

Budrow Wilson Spain said...

I have the exact same weakness! And my four Dobermans are way to smart for me! Now thanks to you I am inspired to give it all another try! Thank You!!