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21 July 2008

Lazy Ask... help me walk my dog? Don't feel like researching this at the moment, because I'm way lazy, so if you know how to go about this off the top of your head, let me know... [More:]

As Sky gained more confidence with us, she eventually became quite demanding while on walks about being able to sniff everywhere, even sort of "digging in" when we told her to come along. It was getting to the point where it was becoming unpleasant to go on walks with her, because she was straining at the leash to go smell every peepee everywhere, and that's a lot of peemail!

SO, I started training her to "heel" - just on my own. I only started a couple of days ago, and she's almost perfect now. Whenever she strains at the leash, I just stop, and if she looks like she's not paying attention I pull her up, by me, so she's by my feet, and as we start walking again, I say "walk with me" (but in a slightly sing-songy distinctive way), and I praise her all the time that she walks right by me with the leash held loosely. If she looks like she wants to go check something out, I remind her to "walk with me", and I praise her when she does.

And she's got it! She's doing great. Almost perfect. But now I want to be able to let her go sniff and explore a little bit occasionally, since that's her great joy. I want to give her a signal that she can go smell around a bit while I wait - and then when I say "walk with me" again, it's time to stop doing that and go ahead as usual (not straining or pulling, not stopping to sniff).

I'm not sure how to approach this bit, since I don't want to confuse her training so far. I've only decided that the words for that will be "go see". But if I tell her to "go see" at the moment she looks like she's considering whether she should go sniff that tire (as opposed to reminding her to walk with me), is this okay?

Or should I just give her this signal somewhere where I'm pretty sure (from past experience) that she would want to sniff?

The thing that worries me is that the halting to tell her to "go see" and allow her to do that, might be confused for the stopping I do when she's misbehaving - and I don't want to create doubt about what's good and bad, and make it all seem arbitrary.

Have you done this training successfully before? How did you approach it?
post by: taz at: 01:41 | 7 comments
Do you say anything to her when you stop because of her disobedience? I think she would quickly learn the difference between a stop and a stop+command. I really like Go See as a command, and think I'll start trying that on Olive once we get to that point. With Lacey I used Okay to release her from a command (Sit, Stay By Me, Hold Still, etc), but that might be too broad.
posted by rhapsodie 21 July | 02:18
Do you have a retractable leash? It would certainly be easier with one, as you can let out the slack as you give the command. That might link the words with the feeling of increased freedom. With Lucy, I'm just glad that she's not straining at the lead eight feet in front of me, but she does well walking close to me on a shorter lead as long as we're not around other dogs or people.
posted by kyleg 21 July | 03:22
I usually say something generally negative like "bad" or "no" or "that's not the way we do things". Chatty, aren't I? :) Anyway, it's basically a tone of disapproval that I try to make clear.

So that's a good point. If I always say the same (disapproving) thing for a negative reinforcement when I stop because she's tugging, but then do a nice cheery "go see" for when she just gets to explore, maybe that will be clear enough.
posted by taz 21 July | 03:25
oops, that was to rhapsodie.

We do have a retractable lead, but I don't feel comfortable using that on our walks around the neighborhood, because I need to have her close enough to deal with cars and motorbikes appearing suddenly. When she's sniffing around, she tends not to notice them as much, but my regular walking lead is short enough for me to pull her back in any iffy situation (also with strange, off leash dogs and strays that might show up. The bane of my existence.)
posted by taz 21 July | 03:29
Oh, but you're right about letting out the slack at the moment I give the "go see"... so I can try it with the retractable, and just keep the longer length short enough for comfort.
posted by taz 21 July | 03:35
Yeah, that's what I was meaning about the leash. But, IANADW, so walk at your own risk!
posted by kyleg 21 July | 03:43
One of our trainers had us using "Free dog!" to indicate that the "stay" or "heel" or "come" or whatever was canceled. "Go see" seems pretty similar, but what was nice about "Free dog!" was that it felt looser, if that makes any sense; "go see" could be a command, rather than a declaration of liberty.

I'm not sure dogs are quite sensitive enough to pick up on the difference, though.
posted by occhiblu 21 July | 20:27
I should be in Columbus now but ... || OMG! Bunny Ninja!