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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Learning to WALK Chance!

If you read What's Your Weakness you might remember that Chance likes to pull me on a walk as if I were a sled.  When I open the gate out of the yard, it shoots out of it.  I have been working with him every couple of days or so and we are making GREAT progress. 

I started by walking him around the yard with his leash on, then I would unlatch the gate (without opening it) and click and treat if he stayed.  Then we would lap the yard, this way and that, then come back to the gate, which the wind had opened, I would make him sit, wait until he looked me in the eyes then would tell him to "walk".  We went a couple of feet out then turned around and came back to the front door.  Click and treat for "end of walk".  I continued to repeat this until we reached the end of the walkway in front of the house.  End of the night.

The next couple of times I repeated the above, unlatch gate, click and reward, then when the wind opened gate, continued walking out to the end of the driveway.

The last few times I unlatched the gate and opened it.  He sat there.  HE SAT THERE AND WAITED FOR MY CUE TO WALK!!!  I could have peed my pants I was so happy.  Chance is like a runner on the starting blocks who takes off at the sound of the gun when the gate opens and here he was sitting there not making a move and waiting for my command.  It was a fantastic feeling.  So I practiced this over and over while I keep going further down the road.  Always turning around, back and forth.  I noticed yesterday he was getting comfortable with walking by my side, going at my pace.  He had relaxed into it.  It helped that he was boosting my confidence and helping me to relax with him since we tend to feed off of each other.

Now instead of letting him pull at all, I'm stopping at the slightest twinge, which is HUGE for me.  I used to just let him do it then try to stop him when it became too much.  Yea, I know, makes a lot of sense.  I have always walked my dogs with tension on the line, and never corrected them.  Now I'm not tolerating any.  What a difference.  Not just for me but for Chance and understanding that, because he is responding well to it.  I'm seeing him make sure he stays at my pace, not getting too far ahead.  I'm using a heel position, but he has some play, he can still reach his head to the ground.

I am so impressed with myself for something I never thought I could ever do.  I have decided to just work with Chance at this time.  I would like to work with Blaze also, but she comes with a completely different set of rules that I don't feel as confident about yet.  I think just sticking to one dog at a time and building my confidence and skills is the best way to start.  What a wonderful feeling doing something I never thought I could ever do.  I love watching Chances reactions.  They are calmer and quieter, like he's able to gain control over himself.  What a beautiful feeling of watching two minds work together for a greater purpose.   


ForPetsSake said...

Congratulations!! Honesty makes me hope that i can achieve the same goal with my 2. I haven't used a clicker since before we got Nyxie, but maybe that's just the right thing for them....

♥♥ The OP Pack ♥♥ said...

That is just wonderful. Mom says she hopes to get Ciara to do better. She isn't too bad, but she really should be corrected now rather than later. Thunder does very well on a leash, and Phantom, well at 12 years old, he is still a puller, and she doesn't think she can ever change him. Congrats on some great work.

Woos ~ Phantom, Thunder, and Ciara

Kristine said...

Yay! It can be done! Congratulations on your recent success. Isn't it an awesome feeling when you finally realise it is possible to accomplish something that seemed so impossible only a moment before?

Dog training is just awesome. Good for you for working so hard. Yay Chance!

HoundDogMom said...

So are you volunteering to leash train dogs? I could sure use you at my house. Our male basset Winston does this to me as well. I walk 3 at a time on retractable leashes. I know call me insane. The girls are perfect at walking by my side, but Winston wants to drag me down the street. We have worked on going out the door, which is getting better but taking one dog out at a time seems to be my downside. I feel like the others are being left out. I am going to continue to watch for some great advice from you as you work through this. HoundDogMom

Peggy Frezon said...

Great job!I bet you are both happier for it too. Happy walking!

Trixie, Lily, and Sammy-Joe said...

Uh... we wish our Mama never read this post! Now she's probably going to try it with us! The dogs among us love to pull on our leashes when walking. Or we just stop to sniff something and won't keep walking. Now you're teaching our Mama tricks!

Lavinia said...

Congratulations on your success! I'm sure in time you will teach the other dogs to walk calmly too.

I also tried teaching Aschiuta today on the way to the vet. She only started walking next to me on the way back, but I'm sure we still have a long way to go.

I'll try your treat method too, who knows?

houndstooth said...

It's really a great feeling when you're training a dog and you have that moment when they get it! Congratulations to you!

Another trick we've tried is to just have a bait bag full of treats and randomly feed ours as they walked beside us in the right position. I'm betting you'll have good luck with Blaze, too!

KB said...

Yay - that's great! It sounds like it's been taking a ton of patience but it's well worth it. I've used the same technique with my dogs and it sure does work!

Unknown said...

Great job! It looks like both you and Chance are getting rewarded from doing the right thing (positive reinforcement).

And lucky for you, Chance is very smart. I remember standing at our front storm door with Shadow waiting for her to stop obsessing on the outside and look to me to open the door. For the first two weeks, I had to wait 20 minutes before she even noticed I was there. She was a very, slow, doggy.

Emily in Wonderland said...

THis is really exciting to me! I have a new dog, my first dog that is really MINE and he pulls! You're using the same techniques that I want to use but am having trouble enforcing because it's so tedious. I never though I would be one to say that, but oh boy is it exhausting! I'm trying to change direction or stop when he pulls but he just doesn't get it- or doesn't care. That's what I get for having a beagle. STUBBORN!