Freedom No-Pull Harness: Day 3

September 21, 2011 at 8:01 am 7 comments

BEFORE

These past few days I am learning a few new things about loose-leash walking that I probably wouldn’t have, training with Boogie’s usual long leash and  harness (as much as I like it)

This Freedom No-Pull Harness and Leash set-up is pretty cool. I LOVE IT!!! Thanks so much Sarah, for lending this to me!

The thing about using a shorter double-ended leash is that I can feel the tension as soon as Boogie pulls. This is BEFORE Boogie reaches the end of the leash, before all 26lbs of Boogie’s weight is  engaged in stretching the leash completely taut… at which point he is already 200% committed to the direction that he wants to go in, and no longer responds to his name, food lures, or hand targets…

It seems that timing is important. The trick is to get Boogie’s attention BEFORE this point-of-no-return. (Bit like working under-threshold in BAT, right?)  As soon as I feel tension on the short leash, I have 3 options:

  1. Connect with him. (“Boogie!” or Hand Target) “Yes!” and treat. What’s cool too is that because the leash is short, I have to feed treats  right next to me (vs. tossing on the ground), which further reinforces for Boogie that “heeling next to Mom” is a good place to be.
  2. Move along with him. For example when he turns to sniff/pee on a bush, I walk with him to keep the leash between us loose, and to prevent it from tightening. This is something that I never had to do when I was holding a long leash so it’s new for me…
  3. Change direction and keep walking boldly forward. (“Let’s go!”) The leash attaches to front and back – which gives me a lot of  extra leverage to move Boogie along. I do this when I really have to move along. “Yes!” and treat.

FREEDOM HARNESS & POLITE WALKING

The NO-FUN parts:

  1. The two leashes can get  disorganized. Thankfully, my smart little dog has figured out how to slip his head in the space between the two leashes so that the front-clipping leash hangs on the convenient side of his body.
  2. Being extra careful about not pulling him.  The Freedom Harness is designed to give the dog walker more control and power so it is quite easy to drag Boogie around if I wanted to and because it’s so easy, I really have to make an effort not to. The whole point of this exercise is to teach LOOSE-leash walking. I would mess everything up if I pulled him.
  3. Wet Grass, stinky stuff. A shorter leash means that I have to trudge through long wet grass with Boogie, and stand closer to lamp posts and doggie poo. (This includes other dogs’ poo or icky stuff on the ground that Boogie is checking out)  Ew.
  4. The harness itself - Don’t ask me how to tighten or loosen anything and if any pieces get twisted up, I am sure I will be calling on Sarah to help me sort this out. I get confused just looking at the thing.

Some happy walks:

BIG SCARY DUDE
Last night Boogie and I were standing by the traffic lights when a big guy stood next to us on my right side, only a few feet away. With this shorter leash, I knew that even if Boogie lunged, he would not be able to reach the guy. Perhaps this gave me some confidence to do nothing instead of moving Boogie away. As it so happens this big guy was staring at Boogie (uh oh) and Boogie was seated in front of me, staring back at the guy. I called Boogie. He got up, walked away from the guy and stood on my left side. He was also pawing at my treat hand but wow – I was so impressed that we had a major trigger in close proximity and Boogie did not lunge. He moved away from the guy like it was the most natural thing in the world to do and completely ignored him. When the lights turned green, we ran across the street and I gave him a treat.

COYOTE
Later in the night, Boogie and I saw a coyote dash across our street. Boogie pulled. I stood still. The coyote dashed across the next street. Boogie turned and pulled in that direction. I still didn’t move. Then the coyote stopped in the middle of the street, turned around and stared at Boogie. I called Boogie “Let’s Go!” He disengaged from staring at the coyote, and ran home with me. First thing he did when he got inside was pick up his tennis ball and run to the window. “Coast is clear, mom. Let’s play”.

OFF-LEASH DOG
Today an off-leash sweater-wearing terrier approached us on the sidewalk outside a restaurant where the owners were having dinner. (I hadn’t seen him) I stood in front of Boogie and said to the owners: “Please call your dog! Mine isn’t friendly”. Thankfully the dog was well-trained and returned to his owners immediately when they called him, but in that split-second a huge leashed-dog approached us from behind. I pick Boogie up until the dog passed us. I put him down again when the dog had walked off several feet ahead of us. Boogie pulled towards the dog for a few seconds (more curious, than triggered). I waited, then he turned his head to look at me. “OK!” I said, and off we went, turning down a side street.  No reactivity. :)

In addition to BAT, I wonder if the new harness plays some part in making Boogie feel safer and more connected to me?

Some time this week I think I will take Boogie to the park and train some loose-leash walking there…

By the way, everyone with a reactive dog should read the BAT book!!! And I’m not saying this just because my Boogie illustrations are in it :)

This is a screengrab from the e-book version which has color pages.

* Podcast Interview about BAT with Grisha Stewart –>  http://www.animalcafe.co/dog-behavior-adjustment-training-for-fear-frustration-and-aggression/

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Doggy House Calls (a new dog training TV show) and the Freedom Harness The BAT Book is here!

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Sarah Owings  |  September 21, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    Excellent Lili! Thank you for all the reasons to like the shorter leash. Normally I prefer long leashes, and certainly once Boogie learns his loose leash walking better, you can go back to the long leash….but your points are really helpful. Thank you. Now I have to go order more of those double leashes from Wags n Wiggles!

    Reply
  • 2. lili  |  September 21, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    Sarah – I wonder if Wags and Wiggles sells those double leashes in different lengths? Maybe after a while, I could get a slightly longer one, but not as long as my usual leash. And yes, I will buy this harness + leash from you!

    Reply
    • 3. Debra Hermsmeier  |  November 12, 2011 at 2:57 pm

      Hi Sarah,

      Yes – there is the standard leash that comes with the deluxe training kit, which can be used in the short version, or up to 6 feet long say if you are walking in the woods. You keep one clip on the back of the harness, and allow the handle to slide down to the end for the longer lead. There is also another version available called the 11 function Euro lead. It can be up to 8 feet long. Or as an order-the-shoulder or around the waist lead.

      We have these for our Golden Retrievers and love them.

      Reply
  • 4. Alicia  |  September 21, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    sometimes i don’t know what i’d do if i didn’t find your blog! you’ve always got some words of wisdom that hit home for my frenchie/boston george and i. so i want to say thanks because sometimes i feel like i’m at the end of my nerves with george, although i do love him to death. seeing yours and boogie’s success helps keep me going. :)

    i’ve been in the market for a new harness. while i know there’s no harness that will make things 100% better in the pulling dept. its good to see this one is working for you. i’m def going to give it a try!

    Reply
    • 5. lili  |  September 21, 2011 at 10:41 pm

      Aw! thank you Alicia!!! I am glad that my experiences are helpful to other doggie people. I was at the end of my nerves with Boogie last week which is why I HAD TO do something about it.

      Also, the online clicker course that I am doing (http://boogiebt.wordpress.com/2011/08/26/sneak-peek-cyberdog-online-clicker-training-course/) has a “Polite Walking” lesson where the leash has to be attached to the front which is why I switched to this harness.The old harness only has one ring at the back. I think the key is to NOT LET HIM PULL AT ALL. Which is easier said than done… GOOD LUCK with George!

      Reply
  • 6. Alisha  |  November 7, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    Hi Lili,

    Thanks so much for the amazing (and very in depth) review of our harness! I am Alisha Navarro, owner of Wiggles Wags & Whiskers. I tried to find your contact info to contact you directly, but didn’t see it here online.

    Your drawings are amazing and I LOVE the .pdf files that you have for common information. I would love to share these with my network with your permission!

    Reply
    • 7. lili  |  November 7, 2011 at 11:06 pm

      Hi Alisha
      Nice to hear from you! I was at the APDT conference – the exhibition hall, and bought my own Freedom harness & leash set (so I can now return the one that I borrowed from Sarah). Thank you for a wonderful product – it really has made a big difference!
      I have some links to drawings here – http://doggiedrawings.net/post/842176625 <– most of these are for free download and sharing. :)

      Reply

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