It's easy to get caught up in the “what my dog is doing wrong” scenarios, but do not forget to celebrate your successes too!!
In my previous post, I shared a setback in my training with Romeo. I was pretty upset with Romeo's behavior last Friday (February 2011) at the dog park. Rather than reacting out of anger, I took him home and took some time away from him to cool down and devise my strategy for moving past this setback. Part of my plan was to eliminate his opportunities to run loose at the dog park with other dogs until we get more practice outdoors with our training.
The next step in my plan was to take advantage of the warm weather and get Romeo training outdoors more in public places. Today we went to the factory outlet mall in Castle Rock. They are plenty of sidewalks to walk on and plenty of people milling about for distractions. There are also very few, if any, dogs there, so this was perfect for the training I had in mind.
On our regular outdoor walks, I use a harness and a long line. However, when we are out in public, I use a regular leash – today it was a four foot leash – usually accompanied with the Gentle Leader head halter. Although I brought along the head halter, I decided to give him an opportunity to make some good choices wearing his harness. Previously, at the outlet mall, we had always used the Gentle Leader. He just wasn't making good enough choices to wear only the harness.
We worked for about 30 minutes at the mall around lunch time today. He was on the harness the entire time, no need for the head halter. I used high value treats that Romeo loves but had not had in a while, so he was much more interested in them. We practiced heeling and some of our Rally Obedience exercises. He received several compliments on what a beautiful well-behaved dog he was!
After last Friday, this was exactly what he needed: some public outdoor time that was more structured and therefore helped him to make better choices. This was also exactly what I needed: some time to help Romeo make better choices, for us both to enjoy being out together, and to spend some time enjoying the fresh air.
At the end of our session, we sat on a bench for a few minutes. Romeo jumped up, sat next to me and gave me some kisses. We have both moved past last Friday's fiasco and had a great day together. The training was much better, and our bond was strengthened.
Today, I am celebrating our success!!