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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Chance Testing

I believe Chance and I are in the testing phases of our walk training.  This is the tough part for me.  When it seems all is going along fine and I tend to drop my guard.  I get comfortable and begin to relax my grip so to speak.  I'm at the place where I want to walk.  Just walk.  Chance does too, his own way.  This is when my failure begins, just after tons of progress, those two steps back tend to throw me off balance and I'm ready to throw in the towel. 

But here's the kicker, I don't want to go to back to the way I was walking with  Chance.  My arm not being pulled out of it's socket is reason enough.  So this is where the tricky part come for me, learning to stand my ground.  I think the thing that trips me up when he testing me, is I feel like everything has failed at this point.  He's not doing what I want, he's pushing the boundaries and I feel like all my hard work isn't paying off anymore.  All the progress and hard work and NOW you're giving me a hard time?  What happen, we were working so well together and now you want to start pushing my buttons?  It's like part of me can't comprehend what is happening after things were going so well.  I take it personal. 

I did realize something on our last walk, that it is still going to take some time for him to accept this is the way we walk now.  Recognizing that changes don't happen overnight, even in the dog world, is progress on my part.  Things take time.  We are still in the beginning stages and there are still many things to overcome.  Chance doesn't have a lot of leash time, for the length of his three year life.  So I can't expect things to move that quickly.  I guess it's going to take a little tough love on my part to reinforce what he has learnt so far.  Not one of my stronger suits in this area, but I refuse to give up now, no matter how hard he wants to try  :)  For once I'm not backing down.  I've took that route too many times only to find myself back at the same starting point.  And really I'd don't want to give up now.  Wish me luck!

How do you handle the testing phases in your training?  What helps you through?

9 comments:

Lavi said...

Chance is almost as stubborn as Aschiuta... I'm still trying to calm her down. Treats work, but only temporarily. Right now I'm trying redirecting the excess energy into games.

I guess the best way to make progress is try and try again... Good luck! And I hope you had a happy Valentine's day!

Pamela said...

Yep, this is where your consistency is key.

But I'd like to agree with Lavi's suggestions. Treats can be good but adding some games to your walk might be better. You want to be sure walking with you is more rewarding than pulling. And let's face it, pulling gets him all kinds of smells.

Does Chance like to tug? Bring out a tug toy every once in a while to reward him for walking close. Does he pick up sticks? Hand him one to play with as you walk.

I also give Honey a pass to sniff something if I know it's really good. If she can stay with me until I release her, I say "go sniff" and we both head over to the new smell (like a dead bird) to check it out together.

I can certainly feel your frustration. I had two mega-pullers. One that wasn't too big but she caused enough to cause herself to choke. Another would pull hard enough to make my hands bleed and sometimes required 20 minutes of walking in circles before she got the message that we weren't going anywhere until she stopped pulling.

Some dogs are just a whole lot harder...

Keep up the good work. It looks like you're doing great so far. Don't get too discouraged.

Mandy said...

I use a stern voice and treats once in a while.

Peggy Frezon said...

Good luck! I wish you the best success on this as you and Chance keep working together.

Wyatt said...

Is Chance related to Wyatt?? It does take time and patience and practice. Our other Airedales contined to pull until they were seniors. That is our fault, we just caved in.

Wyatt's Mom

ForPetsSake said...

Hmmm... what helps me is patience, treats and changing up the routine. I'm still struggling, though, so I'm NOT the person to ask...

KB said...

Don't give up! There's another factor at work too. Dogs don't generalize well. For example, my dog R walks beautifully on a leash when it's just him. Add another dog next to him and he no longer sees leash walking as the same activity as we've worked at so hard. Or, take a dog away from the place where he/she learned a behavior and it falls apart. They learn to "sit" in the kitchen, and they have to relearn to sit in every other room in the house, then outside the house, and then in other locations. Somewhere along the way, they realize that "sit" means "sit" everywhere on earth and with every distraction imaginable.

So, I'd bet that Chance isn't testing you. He's just having difficulty generalizing. You need to patiently teach him that loose leash walking is what you expect everywhere and with all distractions. He won't make that leap in logic easily so you'll have to be patient.

That's what I've learned through working with several great dog trainers and reading about a zillion books about it. The lack of ability to generalize seems to be common among dogs... my dogs certainly don't generalize a new behavior easily.

Don't give up! Keep smiling, stay patient, and you two will learn to walk nicely everywhere!

Budrow Wilson Spain said...

You go Girl!! I know you can do it! I have noticed the same issues with my Peter. We will be doing so good and the neighbors will be saying how wonderful he is doing and then out of the freakin blue he starts being stubborn and wont walk nice pulling, barking at anything and everything that passes by, and don't get me started on the barking and lunging viciously at people UGH!! And it never fails he always starts in when I am at my weakest, after a long tough day at work. I get beaten up pretty bad at work and to come home needing a refreshing walk with my dogs and BAM Peter starts in.

I am rooting for you!!

Tish said...

From the look of Chance's face on this photo, he really is stubborn. Very handsome, but stubborn. You just keep at it. I once had this sweet trouble with my little Sasha. It helped that I've incorporated "all-natural techniques" from friends at http://www.naturalk9supplies.com/