Thursday, August 2, 2012

Adventures in Walking

See, I promised there would be lots of updates

Walking Marty, for the first few weeks, was hell.  I hate to admit it, but there were times that I absolutely dreaded walking him.  Take a look at my original post, that seems like a happy puppy right?  His was Marty on my front lawn, 8 days after I adopted him:

Terrified, cautious and miserable.

I tried every trick under the sun to get him outside.  I tried creating a line of treats; I tried having tiers of treats and luring him out with them; I tried a longer leash; I tried everything and nothing was working.  Then we had a breakthrough.

I realized that when my roommate would take Daisy out, Marty would get really excited.  I used this excitement and would follow them outside.  Marty would be scared, but also wanted to follow Daisy.  Success!  We were able to leave the front lawn.  Once he hit the sidewalk, fear over came him and he would shut down.

For anyone who doesn't have a dog and has never had one, trying to walk a dog who doesn't want to walk is the worst experience ever.  You get frustrated with the dog, wondering why he doesn't want to walk, and you start to get frustrated with yourself, thinking that you're doing something wrong because it seems that he doesn't trust you.  Trying to pull your dog makes you feel like a horrible person and feel as if your hurting him.  This was my life for over 2 weeks.

However, Marty and I were doing better every day.  We started reaching the end of my block, then the end of the next block.  Things were going great.  The key was to simply just keep going.  Open the front door, briskly walk out, then keep going.  Marty would, and still does, look back towards my house, get scared of random scents and sounds, and generally try to either stop or sprint back towards my house.  No matter how he acted (as long as it was negative) I would just keep the leash taut and keep walking.

Having your pup try to sprint in fear while you continue to walk ahead is heart breaking, trust me.  The look he gives you after you get him going, is equally heart breaking.  It's as if he's asking why you're torturing him. Why are you leading him someplace scary?

Marty's doing so much better now.  Leaving the house is still a bit tough,  but a small tug on the he start going.  He sometimes pauses on the stairs by my front door, but once we're out he'll do pretty well.  When there's no loud noises (he's good around most cars and minor noises now) walking is great.  He'll look around, but not be too worried, and his tail will even wag a bit.  As soon as he hears a noise though, he crouches down and is worried for the majority of the walk.

We also are working on the return trip.  Once we turn back towards my house Marty used to make a B line there.  Now he generally stays next to me, but sometimes does try to surge forward.

If I had started this blog earlier I'd probably have written my frustrations almost on a daily basis, but look back, I was being trained just as much as he was.  Every day I got frustrated with his walking patterns, were days that we had horrible walks.  The days that I was optimistic and generally positive, we had great walks.  When I started ignoring his fears, instead of comforting him, things improved greatly.

When we walk now, I bring treats with me.  When he's walking well I am praising him and every few blocks give him treats.  He's beginning to like walks more and more but still doesn't love them.  I don't have to bring him to the front door anymore either, he comes up with his tail wagging.

K bye!

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