Weekly Training Update (Jan 8)
So far, it’s been a darn-cold winter around here. We’re not getting hammered with snow, like the mountain areas on the other side of the Continental Divide, but it’s been windy and c-o-l-d. I must be losing my tough, mountain girl barrier that usually protects me enough to go outside and play with the pups a few times a day. There was, however, one day of tolerable temps, so I performed an experiment with Lilly on our walk.
On our return route in our 3-mile loop, I dropped her leash. Using (as I recall) ideas suggested by Leslie McDevitt in Control Unleashed in a section called something like “We don’t need no stinking leashes,” I did NOT make a big deal of it. I just dropped the leash and kept walking. I continued to praise Lilly verbally and to give her food for staying with me. If she got ahead and turned back into me to check in, I used our marker word (since I didn’t have the clicker with me) — YES!
Much of the walk is along a rural, dirt road, so anytime a car approached, I calmly and without comment picked up the leash as the car passed. Then, I’d drop it again.
I’d say Lilly walked a whole mile in our test version of off-leash. She did GREAT!
Normally, in class, if we’re doing recalls or off-leash work, I unclip Lilly because she really does NOT like to drag a line. I’m pretty sure it stems from her bad, early experiences with our first (terrible) agility instructor, who required dogs to drag a thin line.
So, that’s another reason I didn’t want to make a big deal of it.
Still, I knew she wasn’t thrilled. We sometimes run sections, and when she’s on leash, Lilly keeps a good pace right next to me. But, while dragging her leash this week, she ALWAYS ran slower than I did (imagine that … said the slow, pear-shaped writer). I had to cheerlead her to keep up with me.
I will likely never be brave enough to hike with Lilly off leash, like Tom is, but I think we’ll continue working on what we call CLOSE (with an off leash twist).