Monday, June 8, 2009

Unleash the Hounds!

Actually, that would probably be a very bad idea given the players, but it makes for a nice entry title. I have Mr. Quincy, my mom’s wirehaired doxie, for a week. Over the weekend I was walking Mr. Q and Miss Krispy and lamenting their contrasting walking styles. Krispy has adapted to leash walking quite well. (We don’t really know how much leash experience she had in her first four plus years living in a kennel in Paso Robles. Maybe none, maybe some.) But when I first got her and started on walks, she responded quite well to basic commands (although not completely consistently yet). And, best of all, she’s not a puller. She’s pretty good at merely setting a nice, brisk pace or matching mine comfortably.

The Q-ster is another matter. Perhaps boy dogs just operate differently. Of course, he has to mark everything. That’s okay. But he has a host of walking idiosyncrasies that can get annoying. First up is the constant pulling. It’s like a small child going, “But why, Daddy?” over and over and over and over again on a long car ride. And if he’s not pulling me forward, he’s on the other end behind me, refusing to keep pace. This is particularly predominant during the warmer parts of the day. Quincy seems to tire more easily than Krispy AND he prefers the shade. Once he finds a patch of shade from a tree on the path, he wants to stay and rest for a bit. So I end up with him racing and pulling ahead for awhile, straining on the leash. Then I have to pull him when he won’t leave the shade that is now behind us. (Sigh.)

Lest I give the impression that Krispy is an angel on-leash and Quincy is the opposite, let me assure you neither is all one or the other. They’re dachshunds. They like to stop and smell. It’s in their DNA, so I don’t fight that. And Krispy, being the new girl, can completely freak out upon seeing or hearing a big dog within close proximity, running back and forth or in funky circles at a dizzying pace straining on the leash. It actually looks like she’s having a panic attack. So I know I’ve got work to do with her on this problem.

Quincy also has a propensity to bark like crazy at strangers met along the path. Of course, when possible I’ll cross the street or walk another way to avoid both of these situations that stress the dogs. And further leash training is in the works to overcome these problems. I keep forgetting to take treats on the walks. Quincy responds to them, and Krispy is only now beginning to accept a few treats of any kind. But they both need more positive reinforcement for the good leash behavior.

Comments and suggestions? I’m open to ideas! And, yes, I will be walking them separately this week too. There are only so many Twister-like positions I’m willing to be stretched into from opposite directions as they each follow their own interests. And doing The Dog (yoga) in the middle of the sidewalk is not one of them.

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