Wednesday, January 29, 2014

We are not amused.

This picture was taken later, at an off-leash dog park.

After our less than stellar experience at dog school and his having dragged me to the ground, I decided I needed to give Kane a lot more practice with walking. So I piled on my layers and strapped on his leash and we walked to the pet store to pick up a toy -- something to keep his busy mind occupied for more than 30 seconds at a time.

He was still tugging a lot on the leash, but wasn't being absolutely horrible. Then we got to a -- literally -- slippery slope. A slippery and lumpy slope where two dogs had very recently been playing (so their scent was strong).

Kane trotted down with goat-like ease, while I followed. And then I fell. And then I rolled, kind of in slow motion.

Kane toddled back to me and grinned eagerly, as if to say, "Hey! That looked like fun! Wanna do it again?"

I was not happy, not one little bit. I now had fresh bruises on my recently scuffed knees.

These are the cleats I bought that evening, so slipping will not (I hope) be a problem again!

Being in the pet store almost drove him over the edge (there was another dog in the shop), but we made it out with his toy in hand and proceeded to walk back home, about a 20-minute walk.

This is the toy. You put a kibble or treat in each tray, then align the points.
Kane took about three seconds to figure it out.

Part of the walk home goes through an abandoned school yard -- a big, wide-open space. I figured this was a good opportunity to practice a technique the trainer had shown us the previous evening.

The trainer suggested that I periodically change direction, so Kane will learn that I am the leader, he is not. So that's what I was doing as we walked up the lane-way to the school yard. I would walk a couple of steps forward in one direction then, when Kane started tugging, I would change direction, even step backward.

When we got to the open playground, Kane lost it. He pulled the leash to its fullest extent and started running in circles around me. He wasn't even going after anything this time!

To keep from getting tangled, I was spinning around anchored in one spot, like a whirling dervish. I had talked about teaching Kane how to dance, but this was not what I had envisioned! And then I realized I was actually getting dizzy and that Kane could probably do this for hours.

(I should note that the ground was actually clear of ice at this point, so the cleated boots would not have made a difference.)

So I let go of the leash. Kane had won. Dammit.

He grabbed the leash in his mouth and growled as he ran wildly, like a squirrel on LSD.

At first, I stood there calling him. And then I just stopped because, clearly, it was not effective.

Instead, I turned my back to him and ignored him, like I would a toddler having a temper tantrum.

After a little while, he started looping back to me, so I called him and offered him a treat. Finally, he came close enough for me to step on his leash.

And then he started wrapping the leash around both my ankles. I had visions of him yanking me to the ground and then dragging me feet-first around the playground. (You may think this was accidental, but I tell you, this dog is really, really smart!)

From whirling dervish to dog sled in mere minutes.

So I sat down to lower my centre of gravity before he could pull me down. From there, I finally got his collar, wrested the leash out of his mouth and recomposed myself.

We walked the rest of the way home with Kane on a very short leash.

Since then, we have purchased a "head collar" which seemed to control him significantly better. Until he learned that he could bite the base of the leash and stop the collar from gripping his jaw, thereby taking ME for a walk!

I'll write more about that in another post. In the meantime, we're off to basic training again tonight. We'll see if he can stay in the classroom with the other dogs tonight.

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