Wednesday, March 21, 2012

hugely successful walks

Now that the weather is nicer and I'm actually home when it's light out, we've had more opportunities for walks and the dogs are loving it like crazy.

I've been walking them separately and working hard on their leash pulling and reactivity using the clicker, and they have both become (almost) model citizens on their walks by themselves.  The only time we have an issue is if something really out of the ordinary happens, like the guy up the street playing with a remote control car that's the size of a small dog, or the random off-leash dogs charging us.  I think I've spoken to all of the neighbors who used to keep their dogs off-leash in their yards, and most, if not all of them, don't do it anymore. In fact, the only one that does it keeps her eyes peeled for me, and when she see's me coming, she puts her dog in the house while we're 2-3 houses away and I typically wait and do some basic obedience with whoever I have while she's doing that.  I don't like it, but I can at least appreciate her being aware that we don't appreciate her off-leash dog charging us.

In the past, walking them both together has been extremely difficult because they both pull like crazy and if Buster whines, Roxy becomes more hyper-vigilant than normal, and if Roxy notices something and gets curious with her ears and tail up, Buster whines, which sets off the barking... it's a vicious cycle.  We've been working on them being together without reacting and we've had a lot of success, but we haven't done full walks together because they weren't ready, and we need more practice in ideal conditions (fewer people and dogs out!).

But today we didn't have enough time for separate walks and it was later in the evening so I opted to take them both together, knowing there would be fewer people out with their dogs.  We only encountered one dog, a beagle, who usually bellows and growls at us while the teenager on the other end of his leash asks if he can say hi because he's friendly...  But today we were able to walk by the beagle, on the opposite side of the street, without Roxy or Buster making any noises.  All we needed was to stop and take a breather upon approaching because they were both excited, and then Roxy pulled a little on her leash when we were walking by (pulling forward, not towards him).  Of course Roxy pulling made Buster pull a little, but a little "Oops!" (for Roxy) and "Easy!" (for Buster) got them both to settle down and continue peeing on everything in sight. 

There were plenty of dogs barking from their houses and back-yard tie outs, and all Roxy and Buster did was look over and maybe walk a little faster. And both pups responded so well to "Leave it!" when we passed the house with dogs running the front fence, barking at us.

I'm so pleased :)

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