Sunday, March 14, 2010

Loose Leash Walking

Eclipse started out walking great on a loose leash, I even recall stating that it was easy to forget he was walking with me at times. There was nothing I did to cause this, other than I started taking him on short walks the second day he was home. He was always on a loose leash unless he was trying to run from dogs, but that's another story.
When he was around four months old he was put in a Gentle Leader due to stress on outings and walks so I'm not sure how his leash manners progressed since he was rarely, if ever, on just a flat collar due to the constant presence of other dogs. I do know that at 6.5 months when he went to his second raiser that she had issues with his leash behaviour and he was put in a Halti and that his third raiser also had issues with his leash manners. When he visited at 8 and then 11 months for the day and I took him on walks his leash manners were atrocious. While his leash manners did vastly improve from those visits to when he was career changed and with Tabatha and then came home, they still weren't stellar.

I've been wracking my brain (and others') for ideas on how to get him walking politely on-leash without harsh corrections as I prefer other methods now. The issue we ran into within the first two weeks of him coming home (two weeks yesterday!) was that he was too stressed on walks to take treats, so we tried the easy walk harness, the Halti, and a chain training collar. The easy walk harness prevented major pulling but wasn't ideal and wasn't helping him walk politely. The Halti he tolerated and didn't shut down with like the Gentle Leader but again, it wasn't ideal as it subdued him a bit. The chain training collar by itself was effective but harsher than I'd like to use on the boy, so again not ideal.

After going two weeks of his only outings being to see his sister or going the pet store I figured we'd give treats another shot as I thought his stress would be reduced from not having to "work" anymore. This morning we gave it a shot. I set up my bait bag with four different kinds of treats (Bil-Jacs liver treats, Gooberlicious (peanut butter), apple treats and a small amount of freeze dried beef liver), searched frantically for one of my clickers which I could not locate and got Eclipse set up in his training collar and leather leash. I only used the training collar because he flat collar could potentially slip off, not easily, but it could. We started out by working on sitting and waiting at the front door despite my motions to go through it (first unlocking it, then touching the doorknob, turning the doorknob, opening the door and me stepping through with him still waiting, he got a treat after each step) and then going outside and waiting while I shut the door then going into a heel position despite the wheelchair ramp rail. He did well so we set out. He had some slight pulling before we got out of the driveway so I'd stop and he'd return to heel position of his own accord, get a treat and we'd take two steps and he'd get another treat.

The rest of the walk was stellar. It was fairly short (1/2 mile) but he got treated every 10-15 steps and he got beef liver treats when we were passing by barking dogs. He'd turn his body a bit signifying his interest but he kept his attention on me and his leash loose like I wanted. We practiced about turns and automatic sits as well to keep his focus maintained. It was so nice to see the same dog on walks as he was when he left and it took a reasonably short amount of time! The only thing I want to add to his walks is a "watch me" cue that he already knows. I need to strengthen it in the house and then we'll use it on walks too as I want to get him in Rally-O and agility so his attention on me will be necessary. "Pack walks" will restart soon as soon as he's reliable without constant treating. Oh, fun times! :-D
Oh, and he's filling out nicely. His "tuck" isn't significantly changed but he's definitely got some more padding on his ribs, hopefully tomorrow we'll get a current weight on him!

Ally & Alex w/Eclipse, Teddy & Kira

1 comment:

  1. That's great that you were able to make such quick progress with Eclipse's pulling. Bravo!