a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Pulling on the Leash

Thursday, March 27, 2003

Pulling on the Leash

The thing about Tika that has stressed me out the longest and the most frequently is pulling on the leash. I tried weeks and weeks and weeks of working her alone, then with other dogs, with corrections or with goodies and a clicker, and never seemed to make progress. I taught Rem to pay attention/not pull with the turn-and-pop method--that is, as soon as the dog pulls (or isn't paying attention, or walks past you--pick a behavior and stick with it consistently), I turn on my heel and walk in the opposite direction, so the leash kind of "pops" the dog from the direction she was going. It took a long while--I don't remember how long, any more--but it did work.

But I couldn't do that with Rem, Jake, and Tika all at once. I tried it on my own with Tika for a while, but I was always trying to finish up to get the other dogs so I could do a *real* walk, and maybe I just didn't walk enough distance with her, or something. With all 3 dogs, I couldn't turn and pop without getting somebody tangled up. Also, Rem got the most frustrated of all of them whenever I stopped and realigned her (constantly--the method we learned in class) or turned and popped. So, with Remington gone, I decided that this was enough, Tika was going to learn to walk on a leash. Immediately I went into turn-and-pop mode while walking her and Jake. Jake gets a little confused-looking, because my turns appear arbitrary to him because they're not tied in to *his* behavior, but he seems to manage muchh better than Rem did. So it has been almost 3 weeks since Rem died, and in our 20-minute walks we've seldom gotten further than the end of the court or 2 houses beyond that in either direction.

Late last week (or early this week?), we managed to go all the way down the block (with lots of turns and pops, but slightly longer times between them) until we drew near the house at the end where there's a barking dog in the back yard, and we just couldn't manage to walk in that direction without Tika pulling. Yesterday we actually got past that house to the end of the street--still with turns and pops all along, but many fewer. Today--jeez--she didn't pull going out the front door, OR down the driveway, OR past the house to the end of the court, OR even around the corner. We had to do maybe half a dozen turn-pops before we got to the end of the street, but that was like an entire block with her not pulling on the leash! It was a miracle! And then--we actually walked all the way around the block today! There were about 2 places where we got stuck--turn/pop and then she'd pull again, so we were in a seemingly infinite loop--I think they were both near houses with dogs barking in the back yard--but then she mostly walked without pulling the entire last block and half home again. Yow. When we got to our court, we had to do a few more turn/pops, but not nearly as many as we've always done--and only ONCE going up the driveway to the back gate! It's been a *year*, dag nab it, that I've been trying to get her up the driveway without pulling constantly.

We'll see if this holds tomorrow--

And we're doing it with the gentle leader, still. So as soon as she's doing pretty consistently there, we'll go back to the buckle collar and see what happens. There's hope after all--

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