Tuesday, May 04, 2010

I haz a yo-yo

I have a confession. Ok, it's not really a confession since it's no secret: Abby pulls on the leash. A lot.

Walking her is like walking a yo-yo. Somewhere along the way of training loose leash walking I have accidentally trained her to speed walk to the end of the leash until it tightens, pull a little more, then come back towards me only to start the process all over again.

Now, I know how to train loose leash walking. At least, I think I do. I trained Ryan pretty successfully using the "when you pull you don't get to where you're trying to go, when the leash is loose we carry on" method. Maybe Abby just had too much chance to practice bad leash manners before I got her? Maybe it's that she has one speed (*speed trot with purpose*) and it's quite difficult for her to walk at my speed? I do know that the whole "stop when you're pulling" thing always makes Ryan look at me like "oh...oh so sorry...didn't mean to pull there, coming right back to your side, won't do it again" whereas Abby just speed trots with purpose off in another direction like "#&%@ you then, I'll just go this way".

Anyway, this living in an apartment business has led to more leash walking than we have done in the past and yo-yo walking Abby is getting tiring. Today I decided to bring both dogs (mistake #1) out with clicker and treats to just try and get the idea into Abby's head that walking consistently somewhere near me gets her a lot more of the good stuff than yo-yo walking. I figured that I would just give Ryan a treat too when I clicked since he always walks by my side anyway.

Somehow, the plan failed. Abby is so freakin *quick*. I would click-treat away when she was close to me and that would be all well and good, but try to lengthen time between clicks? Yo-yo dog. I'd click when she was just about at the end of the loose leash and throw her a treat ...which she would eat while doing a quick lunge forward...and then yo-yoing back.

Oh, and. I have no idea why but the whole process freaked Ryan right out. I have a feeling I accidentally knocked him in the chin with the metal of his leash while trying to wield clicker and treats and the yo-yo. He was lagging way behind and tiptoeing forward to nibble the treat that I would offer, then lagging way behind again. I let him off the leash for awhile and he lagged even further behind - very un-Ryan like.

Obviously I need to do shorter sessions just with Abby but I don't have high hopes. I think the yo-yo act has just become too reinforcing in itself for her since it gets her just that much further, faster, on the walk.

Blah. That was a lot of thought and writing on something so simple yet frustrating!


Erika said...

Oh I hear you!
My frustration is Tyler's total lack of a start line stay, which he only pulls out of the bag at trials...
Arghh! How hard is it to simply sit for a few seconds? I know, I know, it all stems from his lack of impulse control but still! It is just a sit.
I did have to laugh at poor Ryan. I can only clicker train one dog at a time; Toby just gets in the way if I am working with Ty.

hornblower said...

Hey! I have a yo-yo dog too!

Darwin the English Setter PULLS with a single minded purpose with that same behaviour chain you describe:

1) sproing out as much leash as possible

2) human stops

3) think about this a while

4) retreat to human

5) human walks again because leash is loose

6) sproing out again until leash is so taut it's about to snap & human's shoulder is bleeding all over the sidewalk

Rinse. Repeat.

To make things more fun, in Step 4, do a perfect swing finish & wrap leash around human and/or other dog being walked.

I've decided Darwin's problem is that he does not yield to pressure. I think I'm going to work on some of Brenda Aloff's Getting Connected exercises & see if I can convince him to change his mind about pressure.

He's also waaay over aroused outside & it's only in the last few months that he will finally take a treat outside so clicker training for loose leash has been a struggle to say the least.

Oh yeah - he has no recall either so the leash is mandatory. Fun, fun, fun.

Karen said...

It's always a relief to read about someone else having the same problems as yourself!
Somehow it makes me feel not quite such a failure:)

Dog Nerd said...

Jody, how dare you find fault in my Abby! She's perfect in every way. YOU just keep attaching a stupid rope to her and then you are surprised when you can't keep up with her supersonic speed?
Poor Abby