Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Dog Walking 101



Wow. It's been a week since my last post. Things have been busy with me and Jedi. I'll try to bring you up to speed over the next few days.

First of all, Jedi and I signed up for another class: Leash Manners. This is a three week class that specifically addresses "issues with leash walking such as pulling and jumping, along with instruction on proper walking techniques." YES! We've got Sit, Down, Stay and pretty much everything else covered in a basic obedience class, but Heel kicks our butt!

Or first class was on Saturday. Jedi was very relaxed around the other dogs, totally ignoring anyone else's bad behavior. At one point Jedi was lying at my feet while the instructor was talking. When a lab ran up and barked at him, Jedi gave the lab a "Dude, what's your problem?" look without even getting up. (I can't tell you what a huge relief that was!) The lab owner pulled his dog away and Jedi looked up at me quizzically. I swear if he could talk he would said "Did you see that? How rude." BTW, Jedi was praised profusely for his good behavior.

But then we actually got up and started walking. UGH. Jedi likes to either pull -- HARD -- or put on the brakes to sniff something, totally ignoring me in the process. At one point the instructor took Jedi and walked him beautifully across the field. When she returned him she asked "You hate me right now, don't you?" No, but I was a little pissed at the dog!

So here's what we learned on week one:
  • Jedi is very tuned in to me, and has therefore has learned exactly what he can get away with
  • We both have bad habits that need to be changed
  • I need to just walk (head up, arm relaxed) and expect Jedi to follow along
  • I need to give clear, quick corrections versus a long, hard tug
  • I need to change things up (sudden turns, out of the blue sits) so Jedi has to keep guessing and pay attention to me
  • I need to talk to Jedi more, telling him what's going on
I really wish we had figured this out 50 pounds ago. Mind you, I'm not looking for a perfect heel right now. I just want a comfortable, loose-leash walk with Jedi at my side. I was spoiled with Logan. He was a dream on the leash. Obviously his previous owner was a better dog trainer than me.

How about you? Have you and your dog figured out the loose leash thing? Any tips? -- K