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In the Moment

Ah, the elections went pretty much as expected. A governor ballot recount, in Minnesota? How could that be? I think we just hold another election with just the two top candidates on the ballot. Recounts are way too expensive.

And I think there should be some limits on how much a candidate can spend on an election and that they can’t take money from a bunch of out of state oil men. Hey Bachmann, I’m talking about you. Those flyers you sent me every day? They never even made it into the house but went straight into recycling, not the garbage, recycling, cuz that’s just the kind of gal I am.

Java’s trying to do her part for mother earth too. She carried the plastic bottle off the street and all the way home.

People at work tease me about the documents I print out. They stand waiting at the printer for their papers and will go to grab the printer output when it gets sucked back into the printer to print on the other side. “Maery, are you printing something? Way to save a tree.”

Yes, that’s me. The tofu loving, bark and berry eating, tree hugger, as my X used to call me.

Anyway, I’m trying out a new contraption on Java when we go for our walks. She’s so bad about pulling. Every dog training class I’ve ever taken, they want you to use a choke collar and “zip it” when the dog pulls.

Well, I am so worn out with “zipping” Java that our walks are just not any fun anymore. She doesn’t seem to learn anything from being choked. And I don’t think she understands treats either. She links looking at me with getting a treat. Not that “heeling” is why she is getting the treat.

So I found something called a “Head Halter” that reminded me of a “Gentle Leader” but the design is supposed to pull back at the withers, not at the face.

I used a Gentle Leader with my previous pit bull and she hated it. Our whole walk was spent with her trying to paw it off her face and me trying to get her moving.

Java occasionally tries to remove the Head Halter, but mainly when she wants to stop and sniff at something and the halter makes it uncomfortable to do so.

I don’t know what the halter does because it doesn’t whip her head around like the Gentle Leader did, but after a couple times of her trying to pull at the leash, she doesn’t pull anymore and we are able to walk with her mainly on a loose leash, which I have never accomplished with a choke chain.

So I hope this device is as gentle as it appears to be because it sure does work and save my aching shoulders.  It looks like maybe it’s tight in this photo (not to mention that she looks like she’s sticking her tongue out at me) but I’ve checked the nose piece as we walk and it’s not tight. Plus she doesn’t have any marks on her nose when we are done.

Java and I are starting a Dog Obedience II class around mid-November. I hesitated to sign up for the class because I’m struggling as it is to keep up with life. But I need some other dogs and distractions to work on Java’s ability to pass a dog without trying to play and to stop her from jumping on people when they greet her.

Mainly, I want to extend my own dog training skills as I’d eventually like to take in another rescue dog but I want to make sure I can handle another dog first. No matter how my heart is pulling, I know I need to settle in more, get some sort of routine established, and figure out myself and my life a little better before I go putting another dog into the mix.

I’m going to end up driving quite a ways to get to the obedience class with Linda Brodzik, but I like her philosophy so I think it will be worth the drive. In her most recent newsletter she wrote about what can go wrong when someone gets a dog and the dog doesn’t live up to their Lassie-like expectations.

She wrote that much of this has to do with the way we communicate, both verbally and with our body language. How we often are not clear in our intentions or our signals. We also must prove ourselves to be trustworthy with our dog(s). We cannot call our dogs to us and then shake them and yell because they chewed up one of our shoes when we were at work. They can’t make the leap of understanding from their past misbehavior to our current melt down.

“Our communication must be in the moment. This is a very hard concept for us. We are continuously projecting forward or looking back. But essentially we can only deal with the moment that is before us now,” Linda wrote in her newsletter.

Believe me, this advice does not just apply to training a dog.

This has nothing to do with the rest of my post but I just found a video that friend Sue posted of the bike race last Saturday and can’t resist adding it here. I can see why Sue likes  her biking family so much. Enjoy!

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8 Comments

  1. Roxanne – No I hadn’t seen that post but am familiar with the concepts. I’m hoping that if I can get Java to spend most of the walk on a loose leash, when I remove the nose piece she’ll remember what she’s learned. The front-clip sounds interesting.

    The biggest problem on our walks are squirrels. I swear that they intentionally taunt poor Java. I was glad I had the head halter on the other day when a stray dog approached with it’s fur up, not looking too friendly. Java did a few sideways leaps but kept walking with me without pulling or laying down (her usual response to an aggressive dog).

  2. Never saw a head halter before. Interesting…

    I am going to try to start keeping my german shepherd on a leash when I ride my horse. If I get to do my “alone” vacation, I want to take him along.

  3. Tammy – An alone vacation? Are you talking a trail riding trip with dog and horse? Or like I’m thinking of doing, a road trip with dog as the trail season is drawing to a close here?

    One of the horse campsites I was at had a lot of dogs that were left behind tied to trees. I’m not sure of the wisdom of that if the day is too hot or buggy. I guess I’d want to check back on my dog frequently. A few dogs went along loose on the trail but they were REALLY well trained dogs.

  4. I am so glad to see that Java has gone green 🙂 Like owner like dog! That head leash looks really cool. We had Hannah in an obedience class and she was finally given a “special” collar, which essentially meant, “I give up, you just can not be taught to heel.” It was a spike collar and it just seemed too mean to use it, so she just never became much of a walking companion. She’s a lover, not a walker. Oh well.

  5. Kathleen – Poor Hannah. That’s as bad as being put in the corner. I don’t know if I’ll be allowed to use the head halter in class. We’ll see. My excuse is that I’m an old lady and can’t take the sudden jerk when a squirrel or dog crosses our path. The front clip halter that Roxanne mentioned sounds like a less noticeable way of perhaps getting the same leverage. Of course when we skijor, then I’ll be asking for her to pull. Such confusion.

  6. Kudos to that Java for helpin’ to save our planet!!! Someone has to take up the slack for your copy habits! Heeeheehehhe!

    The race truly does look like a fun time was had be all. I adore the banana!

    I think you fine the head harness works well but I know that Tiger the Wonder Dog could learn a thing or two (hundreds) from Java.

    God bless ya sweetie and have a great weekend!!!

  7. On my bucket list is taking my horse & my dog & hitting the road. With the trailer, of course! I’m too lazy to have it a totally riding trip. I like to haul & ride. I have friends down in TX & would like to head down that way, stopping at various trails and parks along the way, staying a day or two & continuing on. Coming home a different way, to hit more parks.

    I need a new truck before I can do something like this, so its a couple years down the road. But yes, I hope it works out.
    ref

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