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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

"Training" Blaze

Teaching Blaze to leash walk has presented many challenges for me and has been completely different than training Chance.  Being that she was one of our pups that was returned abused, I find that working with her, I am extremely sensitive to this fact.   I find myself flowing with a sense of guilt about what has happened to her and find I am easy on her in our training.  While I don't let things slide, pulling for example, but I finding myself compromising training so that we can just walk.

I have never forgotten those days when she came back home.  I will never be able to shake those images and feelings from my mind, nor the guilt I still feel about letting her go.  While she has come along way since those first days, I have always had an extra soft spot for her, regardless of how much she may aggravate me when she is in hyper drive.  I suppose that this sensitivity to her could be seen as letting her get her way, but I found that I was asking too much of myself to expect to "train" her like I did with Chance and realized if I can't do it, I can't expect her to.  So I had to let go and let us find our way together.  We have been too far out of sync with each other when it comes to our walks that we needed to find a simple answer that works for both of us.   

So we are learning to walk together with a few basic training steps.  Any other advancements will come in time.  I have went far too long not being able to walk her at all and so this is an actual relief.  While I am still a little uncomfortable using the no pull head halter, (another part of my guilt) it is letting us walk together and have that bonding time we have been missing without the added frustration.  It took several months of working with her for me to I realized that not only did she need to learn in her own way but I still have my own guilt to settle within me.

This revelation has been a blessing in disguise.  I can not tell you how nervous I have been trying to leash train her, finding it so hard to relax and be comfortable with her.  I have been so frustrated before walking Blaze as we have done a lot of head butting in past, but as I take these simple steps of walking, we are beginning to come together to a higher level of respect and understanding between us.  Blaze is helping me by letting me follow her lead and in return she is following mine.  Simple trust for the joy of a walk.  


Unknown said...

Man oh Man do I understand. Fred and I butt heads big time on walking. Especially if the weather has recently changed or is changing or has rained, its a tough one. I started wearing my ipod in one ear and listened to relaxing music when walking him. Its calms me. I also have to stop several time and pet him and take a deep breath and take a chill pill or I will go ape shit :)

houndstooth said...

I think guilt is something that can really interfere with our relationships with our dogs sometimes. I would just like to say, don't feel guilty at all about using a gentle leader or any other tool you need to help teach her how to walk with manners. You're giving her something much more valuable in return, and we all have to be taught how to "do our job and be productive members of society." ;) I'm glad the two of you are moving forward together!

♥♥ The OP Pack ♥♥ said...

Good advice from Houndstooth, we would say the same. But we also admire your perseverance and patience in working with each of the pups to get the walking under control. Good luck.

Woos ~ Phantom, Thunder, and Ciara

rottrover said...

I've found it really helpful to visualize how I want the walk to go. That helps me see the positive behavior, not the negative. I agree with Hooundstooth. The guilt just gets in the way. Blaze has moved on. Picture the two of you just walking together. When she acts like a lunatic, stop, collect yourself and keep going. The walks will really help with her anxiety. Keep up your amazing work!!

Kirsten (peacefuldog) said...

What a great post! I think you have nailed something so important--training is not a one-size-fits-all business, and each person-dog team do have to find their own way. The ideal resolution is to know how to train certain behaviors using positive methods, but to approach each training session with sensitivity for where the dog has come from and what the dog is capable of in any given moment.

She is a beautiful creature with a clearly sensitive nature--she's lucky to be with someone who can reflect that sensitivity back to her! Keep it up!


Cyndi and Stumpy said...

Good on your for having the patience and love to look for ways to make things work with Blaze. I had to/and still have to find all kinds of ways to work with Stumpy. Even the inference of displeasure sends her into a quivering mass of jelly.

Lose the guilt, though! It's not healthy and you have gone above and beyond to rectify any wrong doing (that wasn't yours to begin with!)

Happy, Waggin' Tails, FUREVER!
Stumpy and me

Greyhounds CAN Sit said...

Yes, I have a big challenge in Frankie. I feel so bad because I can't make myself more interesting than anything at all if we walk the streets:( It's easier and more pleasant for both of us to go to the river where he can be off leash. And if I'm throwing sticks in the river for him then I become very interesting, lol.

If the head halter works for you and Blaze then be glad, not uncomfortable:) I use an easy-walk harness with Frankie which suits him much better than a halter ... but he'd still prefer to just be on a collar and leash so he can pull me everywhere!

You are doing a wonderful thing for Blaze and I'm sure it's just a matter of time before you both relax into the walk.

Pamela said...

It sounds like you are training Blaze and Blaze is training you. Not a bad place to be.