Today was a great day for a walk, and because it’s Family Day here in Alberta it was a good day to get out and enjoy the sun. We’ve been having the most gentle winter and have been able to spend a lot of time outside, which is great since walking is one of my favorite things to do. For the next three weeks we have a little pom house guest. Meet Bubbles. So cute.
Bubbles is a little timid with new people and has not been on a harness/leash before today. Since the “walk” is our main form of focus and exercise, we can’t very well leave Bubbles at home alone while we’re out with CB and Kona. Not that I’m all that experienced having trained only two dogs to walk on a loose leash before, but I did find Bubbles to be very easy to get walking with me. Probably helps that she’s been following us around the house.
I did the same with her as we did with Kona and put her on a harness and attached her to a hands-free leash. I really like using the hands-free and was taught to use it for walks in one of the training classes I took (although with a martingale collar which is what I would use for a bigger dog). Using the hands-free keeps your weight centered – the technique is simple as you just walk and if the dog gets ahead of you, you either change direction (left-right-180) or use a hip twist to correct a forging dog. If the dog lags or gets distracted your forward momentum (maybe a quick step) reminds them you are still there. With subsequent sessions I should be able to adjust her position to be beside me. I know I could also use lure/bait to teach positioning, which can be quicker but because Bubbles is going to be shown in conformation I want her to be looking forward and not with her head bent looking up at where the bait would be. I’ve watched a few conformation shows where nice looking dogs have shown poor movement just because they had been taught to focus on the handler (specifically their hand). And here she is walking nicely while I fumble with my mitts.
Tonight is also Agility class for CB. Last week I realized that I haven’t handled him off-leash from the right side very often. It hit me on the head when I had to switch handling sides to get him over the A-frame. Duh. It makes sense that he doesn’t know what I want – I’ve worked jumps from the left because that’s where he needs to be for Rally trials and we’ve been picking up speed handled on the left and I guess I just went with it. The class has also been getting more complicated as we work on more “advanced” handling and I am being forced to change sides. That has been confusing for both of us. Here’s hoping that tonight’s class is a little smoother as I am able to now send him over a jump from my right side while staying in a standing position. Next step will be to work on sending him while I’m moving. There are three classes left so I think that’s a good goal for us.