Archive for the ‘leash-aggression’ Tag

Exhausted Part 2   1 comment

Sometimes I forget whether these night patrols are meant to exercise Miss D or me. It’s exhausting! We only walk a mile, but it’s filled with obstacles: the bicyclist zipping past, the neighbor passing by who “snuck up” on us while we were distracted by the Westie across the street. Miss D has begun to take her training to heart. She gets excited, starts breathing heavy and leaning forward in excitement, then stops, sits down, and waits for her cookie. That’s good, right?

Except it’s difficult to get moving again. If Miss D thinks she wasn’t rewarded enough, or is still excited, she’ll just keep sitting there, turning to watch the dog or bike or whatever disappear in the distance. While what I really want to do is pull her up and move already, there’s a little voice telling me to be patient, don’t send her mixed signals, and wait for her to focus on me again, then give her the release signal and be on our way.

As you can imagine, this makes our walks infinitely longer, frustrating, and well, exhausting for me. Add in my rather debilitating seasonal allergies and the rampant, out of control pollen count this spring, my patience wears thin. Fifteen minutes into our walk we’ve barely gone a block, my eyes are itchy, my nose is running, and I just want to turn around and lock myself in the house with the air conditioning on full blast. But I can’t, because Miss D is just sitting there! MOVE you miserable mutt sweet little dog!

Are we home yet?   4 comments

You know, seeing Miss D go a little off her rocker when we pass another dog on our walks is scary. Seeing a German shepherd with the same reaction to Miss D? TERRIFYING!!!

Thank goodness for alert owners. We both saw each other and instinct told me to cross the street and put some distance between us. They’re clearly training just as we are. Usually, I would call this a teachable moment. I stood in front of Miss D, taking a “don’t even think about messing with me” stance and puffing out my chest to display confidence.

Then the dog lunged toward us, his leash cracking like a whip, and all I could think was, “How far is it to the emergency vet from here?”

Thankfully, the shepherd’s owner had a strong hold on the dog’s thick, leather leash. Just the one lunge and the owner reacted, forcing his dog into a sitting and then a prone position before finally letting him up and continuing on his way. Miss D and I decided to walk in the opposite direction for a little while longer. 🙂

When we finally did turn around and head home, my heart was still pounding and my hands were shaking. I kept thinking what might have been and being grateful for thick-soled mud boots and thick woolen coats. It took everything I had to feign confidence and walk rather than run home!

Lovely   2 comments

What a lovely day for a walk. We had a lovely walk today. Yesterday’s walk was lovely too. Not because it was a warm, sunny day, because it wasn’t. It was cloudy and cloud and rainy and miserable. Which meant we had the whole sidewalk to ourselves.

We walked further than we ever have before. Nearly 1.25 miles! We even got to walk a little way along the bike trail that runs near our house. We never get to do that because it’s always so busy, full of walkers and joggers and cyclists. And dogs. But not yesterday. We didn’t encounter a single living thing. It was beautiful.

As always, walking with Miss D is a constant battle. I am always reminding her that I’m the boss. Me. The Human. I’m alpha. I decide when and where we go. She tends to disagree, which is probably at the root of our leash-aggression problem. She thinks she’s in control, the protector, and she takes her job seriously.

But when we’re alone, I have more opportunities to remind Miss D that I’m the protector, not her. I’ll decide what’s a danger, not her. And yesterday was the culmination of several such walks. It was awesome.

Today was lovely too. A warm, sunny, cloudless day. Obviously, that meant we were not alone. But Miss D, with yesterday’s reminders fresh in her mind, followed me. She ignored one walker, a pair of joggers, a pair of walkers, a jogger, another jogger, and a walker with dog. OK, she didn’t quite ignore the walker with dog, but she did sit quietly. She was on alert the whole time, but she listened to me and got her rewards. By then, we were nearly out of treats, and I could she Miss D was pretty tuckered, so we turned around and headed home. That’s when she went nuts upon seeing the Boxer. But I was able to ask the owners to stay still while I took Miss D in the other direction to get some distance and some semblance of control.

Our final encounter was a lovely, older couple. Miss D went on full alert, but they were understanding, saying they’ve seen us walking before and know we’re still a work in progress. In Miss D’s defense, the man was egging her on. Leaning forward, staring, and barking right back. I know the tendency is to poke fun at the little dog who thinks she’s so scary, but I really wish he had ignored her like his wife. It’s eaier to regain her attention when she doesn’t get any reaction.

Oh, well. It was still a lovely walk.

Tuckered Out

Tuckered Out

Posted February 24, 2013 by iloveschnauzers in A day in the life, Schnauzers

Tagged with , , ,

Walking with dogs, part 3   6 comments

Day to day, it often feels as if Miss D is simply “bat-$*** crazy” (to quote a good friend). But after a weekend away, I can see the progress we’ve made in 18 months. I found my old training log. She used to go crazy-wild at every little thing. I had a long list of possible encounters to train for:

1. Dogs barking in the distance (not within sight)

2. Dogs barking behind fences (within sight)

3. Joggers

4. Joggers with strollers

5. Cyclists

6. Walkers

7. Walkers with strollers

8. Rollerbladers

9. Joggers with dogs

10. Cyclists with dogs

11. Walkers with dogs

12. Walkers with dogs and strollers

13. Inanimates: street lamp poles, telephone poles, street sign poles, poles with cables, orange cones, pinecones, …

Suffice it to say, there were a lot. Each one elicited a different degree of craziness from Miss D. To make it more difficult, the degree of craziness also depended on whether the object was coming towards us in the opposite direction (so she can see it getting closer) or coming at us from behind (so she doesn’t see it until it passes).

We’ve successfully conquered many of them. The ones we still struggle with are the ones that, surprise surprise, involve other dogs.

Tonight we encountered a #12: walking mom talking on cellphone with stroller in one hand, cellphone and dog leash in the other. These types of encounters always make me a little more nervous than I need to be. I always wonder how well the other person will be able to control her dog given all her other distractions. But I can’t allow myself to be nervous. Miss D would feel it and react by defending us. Not the reaction I’m training into her! So I took a deep breath, assumed my “I am in control here” persona, and stepped back from the sidewalk, letting the group pass.

Imagine my astonishment when, instead of lunging and jumping and twirling, Miss D sat down.


She still barked her excitement, but she sat down! YES, Miss D! After receiving her reward, she literally “shook off the excitement”. Another calming mechanism we’ve been working on, which earned Miss D another reward. She calmed down quickly, enjoying her treats, and we continued on our way.

It’s a small victory, but it feels good. Maybe we’re finally beginning to trust each other.


Walking with dogs, part 2   1 comment

Nettie’s mom wasn’t home, so no play date for Miss D tonight. Nettie and her siblings Let.Us.Know. that they saw us walking by. On the return trip, when we got to Nettie’s corner, Miss D sat down and would not budge.

At first, I thought she was overexcited by all the barking and was using one of the calming techniques I’ve been drilling into her. OMG! So she got a treat. But maybe I was wrong. When I turned to press on, she sat down again. And again. And again. She kept looking at me then the house then me again. Begging for another cookie? Or wondering why Nettie can’t come out to play today?

No worries. Being a dog, Miss D has moved on. She is now happily alternating between licking her post-walk ice cube and killing flies.

Walking with dogs, part 1   Leave a comment

Tonight, Miss D and I took our first planned walk with Nettie, the Scottish terrier, and her mom. As usual the initial meet and greet left me nervous. There’s always a lot of barking and excitement, that’s to be expected. But then there’s a bit of a tussle, with Miss D going for Nettie’s ear and Nettie baring her teeth to Miss D, then the humans separating the two and trying to work toward calm.

At that moment, another couple of neighbors and their adorable Shih tzu walk by and stir our dogs up again, so there’s more separating, sitting, and calming. Then let the walk begin!

After that initial tussle, it was more like two four-footed friends checking their mail. There was the occasional butt-sniff, but there wasn’t any more bared teeth or snarls. Miss D didn’t even try to dominate by marking the same spot after Nettie marked. At one point, Miss D started to run forward and just as I was about to pull her back, she stopped. She just wanted to catch up and walk next to Nettie.

So… there’s hope. It helps that we were at the end of our walk and Miss D was already pretty tired. I guess we’ll keep doing this for awhile and then maybe go for longer walks with Nettie and go from there.

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