Monday, 8 October 2007

Sky On the Walk

Sky, my Airedale Terrier, has one main problem I'm finding extremely difficult to solve.
When she sees other dogs while she's on a lead she sometimes (most of the time) pulls like mad, sometimes even barks at them. Off lead she is fine with other dogs.

She is definately worse if the other dog also has a similar problem, which quite often seems to be the case. It is a problem I really want to solve, because sometime last year when she was being looked after by my Mum, while I was on holiday she pulled my mum over in the street. Now, even though my Mum is happy to have her again, its not something I want to risk happening again.

Over the last couple of months and especially the last few weeks since I've been watching and learning from Cesar Milan's Dog Whisperer programme she has come on leaps and bounds and when there is no dog, or cat for that matter in view she walks like a dream. Really excellent.

A few months ago I was really not enjoying the walks at all, which creates a vicious circle as I didn't want to walk her and when I did "the chore" I didn't do it for a long as should.

I think the problem arose because of dominance issues, which Ive worked greatly on. Also, up until early this year I walked her on an extendy lead, which obviously gave her the "leader of the pack" role as she is walking way ahead of me and also could pull in any direction whenever she wanted, i.e saw a cat.

I scrapped the extendy lead and Ive tried walking her by just attaching lead to her normal collar which proved quite difficult as she was constantly trying to edge in front on the walk.
Recently I used a check chain for a few weeks, which may have helped a bit in correcting her edging out in front occassional pulling but did nothing in the heat of the moment of pulling at other dogs.

Within the last 2 weeks I bought a new collar and lead, nylon I think, which I felt was betterthan my previous chain lead. However, this time I fully implentend some of what Id seen on Dog Whisperer:
1)Don't put the lead on the dog until she is calm submissive
2)Don't leave the house until dog is calm submissive.
3)When you leave the house make sure you lead the way physically.
4)Leave the house like your a pack leader, calm assertive, head high and relaxed. Envisage yourself the leader, kind of like you own the streets.

These steps work great. Until I come up against other dogs.

I don't know if the problem still relies with myself. Here's some examples from the last 2 days,

Yesterday, Sky was walking great, I could see a German Shepherd coming my way. It looked fine but did have a what looked like a head collar. I felt I was ready, standing tall, chest out, no tension on the leash, ready to just keep on walking past the other dog.

However, looking back maybe I was kind of avoidng the situation, because in the middle of the street was another man looking in a shop window and I deliberately went the left side of him as the other dog and owner were going the right side.

As I looked at the German Shepherd I noticed it ears prick up as it looked at Sky and within a split second she out out of control, pulling and barking, which I stopped immediately by pulling her back and up. I hadn't noticed the german Shepherd pulling or going out of control. We then moved on. It's actually quite rare for her to bark at a non barking dog.

Then today, I was walking down the street and again Sky was fine. Two small dogs were coming our way and again I was consiously relaxed. Sky started to beome a little fixated so I tried to correct her out of it. The other 2 dogs were both out in front and pulling there owner. In seconds, from being slightly fixated Sky had pulled out in front of me and I was pulling her back.

The lady and her dogs walked into a drive way. I turned to walk the other way to lead Sky in another direction and gainthe leader position and intending to turn back with her under control. However as Im walking away she was pulling back to the dogs, so I said to the women, "Ill cross over, so I crossed over the road, and when I got over Sky was still pulling a bit to face the direction of the dogs and I sat her down and confronted her then moved on.

Should I have crossed over? By doing that I feel I just avoided the problem. Although, I don't know purpose it would have served me pulling Sky past 2 excited dogs, there's no way it would gone smoothly.

Maybe the problem is I'm not correcting her enough when she goes into even slight fixated mode. Thats what I'm going to make sure I'm fully aware of next time.

I've been having similar problems for a while. The thing is its all happens and is then over in a matter of seconds.

Anyway, this is certainly one goal I have to achieve and I'll be so happy when I have!

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