Walking…all dogs need walks, need exercise, need to be outdoors and have activity. Sadie, being only three, and being rather hyper, needs it more than most. I was excited about this prospect- it would build in a morning walk for me each day. I imagined how nice it would be to walk her in the early morning, taking our time, exploring parts of the neighborhood, helping her to feel more at home here.
…Walking Sadie is like walking a locomotive. She has a particular attraction to bunnies and squirrels, which run rampant in the early morning. Should she spot one of these furry creatures, she immediately has superpower strength- enough to drag me to wherever she chooses.
Initially, I used a regular collar and leash…this worked horrible! Sadie would just pull so hard that she was choking and gagging herself, as she pulled me along. Ron and I were reading various articles on how to train your dog to lead. Some were ridiculous…”walk with your dog one direction and without warning, change direction, forcing your dog to follow, and saying ‘quickly, quickly’…” Really?! Changing direction would do one of two things- either nothing, Sadie would just forge on, hardly noticing me on the other end of the leash, and I would be dragged along. Or she would change directions with me, and quickly run ahead dragging me the other direction. This became Ron and I’s inside joke, as I headed out on our morning walk…he would call after me, “don’t forget to say ‘quickly, quickly’!”
After watching a number of episodes of Cesar Milan, we noticed that he used a choker type leash. It has a ring and loop at the dog’s end. The harder she pulls, the more she chokes herself. It seemed to work well for him…on TV. We got her a pretty pink one- the pet store lady called it a “European training leash”. Turned out to be a more efficient way for her to choke herself, but didn’t really stop the pulling.
Walking her was not a pleasant experience, and it didn’t start my day off well. One day at Petco, I spied an “easy walk” harness. I wasn’t holding out too much hope, but took it home. It fits around her shoulders and belly, and when she pulls, it squeezes her front shoulders, which makes it difficult for her to gain momentum and pull…or this is what it said on the label.
What a total game changer! Sadie was like a different dog! For the first time ever, she walked…just a few steps ahead of me. It didn’t choke her, didn’t hurt her, and she responded to when I would be ready to turn a corner or hold her back a bit.
Nowadays, Sadie and I have company- Joey goes with us….because all dogs need walks.