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Monday, January 25, 2010

Flexi Leash Training for Topa

7 month old Topa on the picket line with the big dogs.

At the end of the 26 foot leash gazing across the lake

Running happily back after she understood we would not be moving if she was pulling on the end of her leash

After a day of mushing the big dogs, not so little, 7 month old Topa and I took to the lake to check out the ice house we had been hearing all about at Boyd's. Instead of canicross hiking with her and doing something she was now familiar with, I opted to try something new. I would begin her training on a leash; a 26 foot flexi leash.

The beginning of the lesson was predictable with Topa flying to the end of the leash as though attempting to rip my arm out of the socket. Knowing this would happen, I braced myself. When she hit the end of the leash I made a very low "ah" sound and stopped walking then I waited. At this point, all I want her to do is relieve the tension. After several seconds of no motion she began to whine and look back at me. I remained still and quiet. Then she came running to me. At that very moment my tone of voice changed to a higher pitch, I began walking again and she heard the words "Good girl, Topa!".

The same pattern continued over and over to the point she began hitting the end of the line then running back to me and circling me before she hit the end of the line again. Within about a half a mile, she no longer hit the end of the line with the same intensity and continued to circle me when she felt her boundary limit.

It took us twice as long to walk the one mile to the ice house as it would have otherwise but by the time we arrived, she fully respected the end of her leash. At the same time, she appeared to be learning to only get 26 feet away from me before coming back which was an added bonus not planned.

Of course, the lessons aren't over. We'll have to work on it several more times before it sinks in but it was a very good start!

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