Thursday, August 23, 2012

taking control

Gracie and I had a discussion yesterday regarding her inability to exhibit nice doggie behavior on our walks. At only about 40 pounds, she is surprisingly strong. When on leash, she tries to pull me around where she wants to go. I hold the leash in tight with two hands and lean back to add resistance as she chokes herself, coughing and wheezing for air. We go for walks at night when fewer people are out walking their dogs because Gracie’s manners are atrocious. She snarls at everyone no matter how friendly they are. It’s so unpleasant that we only go for 20 minutes. I would take her for long walks if she could be more civilized. I told Gracie this can’t continue!

I guess our discussion was really more like a lecture because she didn’t have anything to say about the matter. Her ears perked up and her tail wagged every time I said the word “walk”. At least she listened, which is more respect than the kids give me most of the time.

I watched dog training videos on YouTube last night. Training dogs seems like common sense – you need to be consistent and patient, and provide rewards for good behavior. Common sense, maybe. Easy – most definitely not. Last night, I put some dry cat food in my pocket to use as rewards. Gracie would rather have little bits of dry cat food than any other treats we’ve ever offered her.

So last night was our first training session. It was utter failure. We walked around in the house with her leash on for 15 minutes or so, and she was very obedient and well-behaved. As soon as I opened the door to go outside, Gracie morphed into a wild animal.  We took more than an hour to go the same distance we normally cover in 20 minutes. Every time she pulled on the leash, I made her sit. She had no interest in rewards, she just wanted to GO!!!  It was a miserable walk for both of us (usually, it’s only miserable for me). I think we will just train in the yard from now on until she learns how to walk with a human.  Her world will be smaller for a while (but hopefully not for too long). 


Linda and her Twaddle said...

You could try a head halter. Same as a martingale on a horse. I have to use it for Benny or he will pull me into the fence and then make me want to hang him by the neck from a tree (in the heat of the moment).

Walk Gracie when she is hungry and use very tasty treats - sometimes that helps. But really, life is better with the head halter. Otherwise he is a #$%^& to walk with. She won't like it but each time you put it on her give her a treat. And each time she gets fed put the harness on first so that she associates good things with it. It takes a while but no matter what, she will not be able to pull when the head harness is on.

The growling etc. is just a bit of a fear thing and takes time maybe.

KYLady said...

Thank you for the link! When I saw the pictures, I remembered seeing those at the pet store (but didn't know why people used them). I'll see how it goes the next few days, and go get one if she fails to make progress.