Monday, June 14, 2010

Loose Leash (not)

Want to know a secret?

I have zero luck with loose leash walking. Ok... not much of a secret, I admit, as anyone who has seen me out walking my dogs is already in on it.

It's not that my dogs pull or are rowdy, they just don't keep a loose leash unless specifically instructed to do so (and even then it can be iffy.)

Beau seems to the think the point of the leash is to keep track of his humans, and therefore the leash should  be taut. I know this, because he will walk happily on a totally loose leash if I am gently touching his plumy tail - which he holds just high enough for me reach.

When he was young, it was suggested we play "Penalty Yards". You pick out something - preferably something the dog wants to get to - about 20 feet away and you start walking towards it. If the dog pulls, you turn around, return to your starting point, and repeat.

Unfortunately, Beau could do this all day.

Forget whatever is 20 feet away, Beau just seems to find the act of moving all by itself to be rewarding. He basically doesn't care if he is going this way or that, he just wants to be moving.

Standing still as a form of penalty (aka "Red Light - Green Light") doesn't work any better, since Beau could do that all day, too. Standing still means you can sniff the breeze, sniff the ground, sniff the landscaping...

Nope, standing still is quite all right with Beau.

Now Zachary... I don't know what to make of Zachary. He will walk on a loose leash if I have something he wants (ie: a cookie) or if he knows we are "training" (ie: knows he will eventually get a cookie) but if we are just out for the daily walk, then he doesn't seem to get the concept of loose at all. Again, he's not pulling, the leash just isn't loose.

Zachary also doesn't mind Penalty Yards - probably because he figures if I wanted to turn around, then he wants to turn around, too.

Zachary can be quite accommodating that way.

"They" (those mysterious "they" who never seem to have any problems teaching anything to their dogs) say that in order to teach a loose leash, you must never ever let the dog get anywhere on a tight leash.

It sounds like it might work. In fact, it probably would work. But let's face it, it's just so impractical for most people (well, at least for me, and I'm hoping to hide my failings by surrounding myself with my own set of like-minded "they"s) as to be worthless.

Maybe that advice was invented by people with small dogs, who can scoop up their little pullers and carry them wherever they need to go if they don't have time to insist on a loose leash.

Maybe that advice was invented for people who have no time constraints on their lives, who can afford to spend three hours walking to their car (to the door, to the car, to the door, to the car...) before they go anywhere.

Maybe that advice was invented for people whose dogs don't need several miles of vigorous walking each day, where three hours spent walking back and forth (and back and forth and back and forth...) between the front door and the side walk just isn't going to cut it.

I just know that that advice is not meant for me.

Which is really too bad, as I honestly, truly, think it would work and I can't much think of anything else that will.

Public Service Announcement: It has come to my attention that not everyone who reads these (all three of you) know that there is a wholly other blog out there related to my boys, used mainly for listing what I'm working on each week. If you happen to actually be interested, you can find a link to it at the top of this page, on the left, right below the boy's picture - or look here:

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