10 Weeks 4 Days- Walking on Leash

Sep 20, 2004 | Stitch's Story

We’re going away for a long weekend. Scary stuff, for me at least. Cooped up in a trailer for five days with the twerp. I start getting frantic about all the stuff she doesn’t know yet. Breakfast is leash work!

First glitch at the front door. She got creamed by it a couple of days ago, trying to run through it when I didn’t expect her. She doesn’t want to go through the door, so I carry her and put her down in the yard. Start clicking immediately for loose lead. This goes very well. She’s obviously much older and more clicker-savvy than she was the first time we went for a leash walk. She’s watching for consequences. When she gets to the end of the lead, I back away from her and she comes back immediately. Mostly I’m clicking for HAVING the leash loose, not for tightening it and THEN loosening it. Another pitfall I’m noticing that I AM falling into, however, is only remembering to click for the loose lead when she turns to glare at me for not clicking. This would be great if we were working on heeling, but we’re not, we’re working on loose lead. A particular button of mine – heeling is work, a competition behaviour that happens in competition or when I need total control – like intersections, or walking past rank dogs or dog-shy people. Loose lead, OTOH, is a default behaviour for going places in your life. It doesn’t require looking at me, or a particular position, or a command. If the leash is short, the dog is near me. If the leash is long, the dog is anywhere around me. No pulling, no lungeing, just two buddies going somewhere together.

I catch myself clicking for looking at me about five times. Argh. Most of the clicks, though, are for real, actual, loose lead walking. Trucking right along within range of the lead. After awhile she gets the rips and figures out that if she hangs back to near the end of the lead, she can then rip forward at full speed, turn just before she hits the end in front of me, and do a full circle with a 12′ diameter without actually tightening the lead. Gosh, pups are fun!

MUCH less nerve-wracking for me to have her on lead. It’s been raining the last few days so we have to stay on the road, which leads right by Rapid Fire’s pen, so he walks with us most of the way – a great distraction. And she pees on lead – just to remind me, no doubt, that we’re going on a trip and I haven’t worked on peeing on lead! At any rate, a very nice walk. The only kicking and bucking we get is when she hooks the lead under her foot, and that’s OK, I don’t want her scared by this in any way but I want it to be annoying so she figures out how to prevent it eventually.

Her trot is brilliant, long, low, smooth. Makes me think about show rings.

And then she gets creamed by the front door on her way back into the house. Dang.

Have I mentioned that Portuguese Water Dogs are countersurfers? You may think, as I did before I got one, that this couldn’t possibly be a breed characteristic, but you’d be wrong. Consider the recently-produced PWD cookbook. It’s called DON’T TURN YOUR BACK! Stitch, all of 10″ tall, sits in the kitchen all by herself, staring up at the counter. Occasionally she growls, and then flings herself at the dishwasher. She bounces off, sits, and resumes her gaze at the unreachable (for now) heights. How nice to see such faith in the Holy Grail in one so young…