E is for Every Day, which is how often we work with Leo on his leash reactivity. It’s quite easy, actually. We just take him for a walk.
Even with the best of intentions, walking a reactive dog every day can feel like a chore. Every walk can expose him to triggers, so it’s important to plan ahead and pack all the necessary tools (like lots of cheese!).
I’ve heard that if you do something every day for thirty days it becomes a habit, and that’s true of our daily walks.
This time a year ago, I walked the dogs separately some days, and together on other days. Sometimes we went to the dog park instead of on a proper walk. Rob teaches a martial arts class three nights a week, so on those nights I dog-walked while he was busy with that.
Sometime over the winter, we discovered how nice it is to walk the dogs together after his class when it’s dark and there are fewer people around. This became a habit as we started doing it every day.
This also allowed me to return to martial arts class after a nearly five-year hiatus. (5!) Even I was surprised to realize it had been that long.
Leo still has outbursts, but he has improved so much since we started walking him every single day. A few weeks ago, I was sick and went straight to bed as soon as Rob came home from work. Mia had been with him all day, but Leo had been cooped up with me. I thought that might be the day Leo skipped his walk until I heard Rob leash him up and take him out.
The picture above was taken on a rare day when both dogs rode along with me to my job. As I posed them in front of this cedar pavilion on the Swinomish Reservation, I thought of the theme for this month’s Positive Pet Training Blog Hop: Teach your dog something in ten minutes.
Let’s just say that Leo and Mia have a pretty loose interpretation of the Stay and Wait commands. I positioned them where I wanted them in front of this pavilion, and said “Waaait. Waaaait,” while I stepped back to get the picture. I did this a few times, and got a few shots that make me laugh.
Everyone look to the right. Now the left. Now at each other.
Maybe I taught them a little something about the Wait command in the process.
For more about my journey to discovering the benefits of positive reinforcement, read my book, Bark and Lunge!
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