I don’t think many animal trainers would disagree with me when I say that training an animal takes time, patience and a lot of effort. Is it worth it in the end? Yes. You may have to change tactics, but not to give up is the key to success!
I started to think about this on my evening walk today. I experienced a huge step backwards in the loose leash training today. My dogs have lately started walking very nicely when leashed. There’s always a lot of pulling in the beginning, but hey – even I will run to the toilet if I really have to. After they’ve done what they need to do, they are always attentive to whether the leash is tight or loose.
This evening they weren’t. They both pulled with all their strength, not sensing the leash and they did not give me one thought what so ever.
I don’t know what happened. Clearly they were both stressed and excited, but I have no clue what triggered it. My guessing is that it may have been a smell or two or the fact that I expect Luna to come in season very soon.
She is a young dog after all, and her hormones are starting to change her from the little sweet puppy that she is, to a soon-to-be grown up. Hugin is neutered so he’s not getting excited by her smells like I’ve noticed other male dogs have been when around her lately, but he is very easily affected by the stress of other dogs and people.
I am getting a little discouraged every time this happens. This feeling is only lasting for a short while. Just until I’ve thought more about what went wrong. It’s not their fault. If they are unable to focus, they are unable to focus. There’s nothing more I can do about that than to lower my expectations and to make the training easier for them. This may be once in a blue moon-incident, but if not I only need to go back a few steps so I’ll set them up for success!
It is important not to give up just because things don’t go the way we hoped they would. The picture further up explains it in a way words can not. If I just gave up teaching my dogs to walk in a loose leash my arms would be extended till the point where I would look like a gorilla! No thanks.
I want walks to be relaxing and enjoyable for everyone. My dogs will sniff whatever they want to sniff, and I will not be tired from putting my breaks on. Come to think about it: I wouldn’t find training my dogs to be so rewarding if I didn’t come across some difficulties once in a while. I wouldn’t appreciate our goals in the same way if I never had to work for it!
Picture taken by John Gjertsen.
This is from a training session with Luna, armed with clicker, treats and a anti-pull harness not designed for discomfort.