Thursday, 17 April 2014

Trying out a harness

Daisy is for the most part very trainable, and she loves to work - pretty typical for a collie. We have started doing obedience classes with a view to eventually competing (it's going to be a while away yet!), and have also begun puppy agility, which she is awful at for now. I suspect she will improve, and I also suspect that a lot of why it's not going so well right now is my inexperience - she is very sharp, and everything is always done at a million miles an hour so if I miss the right moment to give her a cue it all goes a bit to pot. But she loves her agility and I always come home happy at how hard she has tried and how much fun she has had.
Once place we are not doing so well is on lead walking. Rather than teach her that she has to walk by my side at all times, I've tried to keep the lead length consistent but allow her to walk wherever she wants around me, conditional on there being no pulling. The intention was to try to avoid her being a "left-sided" dog, and also to get her comfortable early to being on either side, behind or in front. But it hasn't really worked - what I've found is that she just pulls on all sides. Not too badly, but enough that it makes walking her harder than it needs.
To complicate matters further, I do quite a bit of running with her. So that I don't stand on her (and because running is waaaay easier when you're being towed along) I've been encouraging her to run out in front of me. Different command and all, but still it's a lot to ask in understanding: "when we're going slowly I have to not pull, but when we're running then pulling is actively encouraged". So that confusion, coupled with some concerns about putting pressure on her neck when running made me think that maybe a harness was the way to go for running while keeping the collar for walks.
Our local doggy day care (who are brilliant - of which more another time) recommend a particular type of harness (these, in fact), so with a certain amount of trepidation, we gave it a go. All I can say is I wish I'd tried it months ago.
Once poor Daisy was over the confusion of suddenly wearing a whole set of purple fleecy straps round her body we gave the harness a road test on the evening walk. Because my connection point to her is much further back on her body, it seems it doesn't trigger the same urge to pull as when the lead is attached to her collar. So mission on the not pulling on walks accomplished pretty much instantly - though I don't know yet how long it'll last. Course that doesn't solve the issue of "one attachment point for walking with no pulling and a different attachment point for running and encouraging pulling", but we'll try out a run with harness and see how we get on. At least I know that she is happy to wear her very fetching new outfit, and it has modified her behaviour in a very positive way...for now at least.

No comments:

Post a Comment