Thursday, September 30, 2010

We have great walks

Megan and I talk about polite walking on a regular basis! My dogs... are not necessarily brilliant, but when we're actually going for a walk they're good. Otherwise I would not be able to walk three dogs that, together, outweigh me. Most of the walk is spent on a slack leash.

What have I done to make our walks go well?

**Each dogs has been trained separately before they were walked together. Blaze had several years of practice before Luna came. I walked Luna separately to teach her walking before walking them together. Griffin had walking training before joining the group. I also did a few walks of just Griffin and Luna or just Griffin and Blaze.
**I carefully chose what equipment to use. On our exercise walks, Blaze wears a head halter and a over-the-shoulder leash. This gives me two free hands to hold the others. He learned early on how to pull very well towards something he wants, the head halter keeps me from getting pulled over on that small chance he does see something very exciting. Luna is on a martingale (so she can't escape!) and a regular leash. Griffin is on a pulling harness and leash or a pulling harness and canicross belt. The harness does allow him to pull a bit more than on a collar, and it gives me less control over his head, but if he does pull, the force is distributed much different than on a buckle collar and I do find it easier to restrain him.
** I take treats. I don't need to use them for the entire walk, or for any of it. But I do reinforce good choices. If a dog stops to smell something and moves on? Treat. If a deer is sighted? "Dogs Sit!" and lots of treats.
** I plan my path. After we sight an animal, I turn and go the other way. There isn't any good reason for me to head in that direction. Not only would I be more likely to get pulling, but the dogs would get aroused and be more likely to pull later on in the walk. We vary our path. Every day we have a few different paths and places to turn. If I know we saw a squirrel in a location, we'll avoid that spot for a few days.
** I don't allow crazy pulling. If there's a lot of pulling, I manage the situation. Call the dog back to me. Hold a shorter leash, use a higher ROR... I don't continue that direction. And I typically head home. And that dog gets more training before going out with the group again.

Off leash dogs can't pull. Most of Griffin's early exercise was off leash walks. He did not practice pulling!

1 comment:

Megan said...

I just walked all three beasts. If Bailey were allowed, I would have put her in harness and put my belt on... but since she can't I had her and Fritz on Gentle Leaders and Buzz on a regular collar. It's more challenging to walk two dogs on gentle leaders and apply appropriate pressure when you have another leash to hold (and not allow leaping around *cough... Fritz... cough*) but we made it for about 15 minutes successfully.

Walking two dogs is hard, walking three is a pain! Harnesses come in handy when walking so many dogs. So does having space to let them off leash (how we started and ended our walk).