Although the photo above shows me walking both dogs as I so often do (my dad was the cameraman here, and if he joins us he walks Boca) but my goal for Walk Your Dog Week (October 1st-7th) was to do more one-on-one walking with The Ginger Sisters. I think they appreciate the focused attention, and they are two very different dogs with very different needs and motivations.
This weekend I spent some time with Ruby and Boca individually. Ruby's solo walk was more of a solo play session using her long line and flying disc, but there is nothing she finds more rewarding than chasing, fetching and tugging, so I used that to our advantage to burn off some energy and also strengthen our bond through play. I've actually never tried using her long line with her flying disc before - we used to take it to the dog park or ball field but I decided to give it a whirl and it went spectacularly! Her line is only 15 feet and I now that I know how well this works, we have a 30 foot on the way. Being the paranoid helicopter dog parent that I am, I was sure to attach her little safety line (a toy dog coupler) from the base of the snap on the long line to her harness ring.
I threw her disc gently so it wouldn't sail too far and then prepared myself to run as well so she didn't hit the end of the line. Ruby had a blast and even caught the disc mid-air a few times which is a big deal for my cautious, careful girl (she reminds me so much of myself in gym class, dodging the volleyball). After she caught it she would run gleefully in circles and even toss the disc up for herself to catch again. It filled my heart with joy to see her having so much fun. After she was sufficiently tired, we continued on a short walk around the neighborhood. You'll notice there is only one loose leash in the picture...I like to think less that Ruby pulls and more that I don't walk fast enough for her. The long line gave her room to explore and sniff while also coming back to me. Since Ruby will never be an off-leash dog, I need to utilize this tool more often to give her increased freedom.
Boca is my easygoing, ambling girl. Individual walks with her are a pleasure; unless she is trying to snag a chicken bone off the ground she is always strolling at my side, mouth open in a smile, tail wagging. For her solo walk, I took along a pocketful of treats. Food is still the number one motivator for my former street dog. One of the things we struggled with in our beginning obedience class was a sit in different positions. Boca's tendency was to pivot and sit facing me rather than at my side. I was surprised to find that in our day-to-day informal walks and work on sit in the house, Boca has naturally picked up sitting at my side! She was eager to earn some tasty treats as we meandered around the neighborhood practicing that as well as some short-distance recalls. Since walking with a reactive dog (Ruby) requires constant vigilance and what I like to call "Defensive Dog Walking" skills, it's a wonderful break for me to be able to simply wander at will and not dart around the corner if we happen to see someone else coming.
As the days grow shorter and colder, I know it will be harder to maintain my commitment to walking my dogs separately, but I'd like to make a point of doing so on at least one weekend day. Ruby would like to hone her skills as a disc-catching terrier and Boca clearly enjoys her snack-sprinkled saunters.
This post is part of the Positive Pet Training Blog Hop, hosted by Cascadian Nomads,Tenacious Little Terrier and Rubicon Days. The hop happens on the first Monday of every month, and is open for a full week - please join us in spreading the word about the rewards of positive training!