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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Heeling and Healing

So, Kona and I are two sessions into our training and we have both been working hard together. The first lesson was all about "heeling" -- which as you know is walking on the leash without pulling me to heck and back --

I still remember when I was handed Kona's leash at the rescue and was told, by the former owner, "I hope you don't intend to walk her, as she is a beast on a leash."

And I thought, oh boy....

And she was, truthfully, "a beast on a leash". Yanking me from hell to high water and back. And at 91 lbs., this was not very fun for me. And that was the big reason to hire a trainer, as you know, I love my daily dog walks and have been doing them for years with Boomer and it's really the BIG reason to have a dog, at least for me.

Both of us, Kona and me, have plenty of learning to do.  I must admit that I am a bit rusty on my training techniques -- I mean, it has been a long time since I trained a dog and I am a bit spoiled by 14 years of Boomer's good behavior.

So I had to relearn old things and am learning some new things in the process.  I also had to get some new equipment, including a "martingale" collar (which I never heard of before) and I am now a true believer of.

And I really had to learn to watch the tone of my voice and be consistent with both the tone and the words I use with her.  For example:

Normal tone of voice, used for commands, such as "heel", "sit", "stay".

Harsh tone for correction, only and ONLY with the word "No!"  (This is hard, I admit, for me.) One is not supposed to say, "NO! SIT!" but "NO! Sit."  The "sit" part being said calmly.  And this trainer believes only the word "No" should be used for correction.

Then of course, the happy bubbles tone for a job well done, i.e. "good girl!!!"

Well, I am very happy report Kona is really getting the hang of "heel" with our training (home work), at least twice a day, sometimes three or four times, weather permitting. We still have troubles when there is a distraction, such as another dog, but there's still more training sessions and work to do...

Kona -- sit, stay, good girl!
Last week's session was adding a "sit" and "stay" to our "heel".  This involves heeling to a stop, then a sit command, then me (looking like an idiot) walking in circles around Kona giving her the "stay" command.  We've been practicing this around the neighborhood and, if anyone had any doubts that there was a crazy lady living in that pink house, they certainly have none now!

This exercise was actually very hard for us at first.  Although, Kona would do it perfectly with the trainer, she would not cooperate with me.

The trainer explained that she was "testing me" to see how much she could get away with, and I had to learn to be stricter with her, show her some "tough love" as it were.  

She is now, as the photo shows, getting the hang of it. And so am I.

I must say, I am so very glad to have Kona in my life. This dog absolutely adores me, and I absolutely adore her. She gives me a reason to get up in the morning. And though I may have "rescued" her, she really has rescued me at the time of my deepest grief.  I may be teaching her to "heel", but all through it-- she is teaching me to "heal" as well...

Tomorrow will be our third training session with the trainer, and we are taking Kona to the dog park, where there should be many distractions to work on -- should be interesting. Wish us luck.


Barb Polan said...

Good luck!

I can relate to Kona obeying the trainer, not you - my dog was the "easiest" in the class, but that's because he did everything correctly with the trainer and/or me in class, but was then a brat at home. We'd return to class and I'd tell her that he wouldn't walk without pulling, and then I'd go to show her, and my dog did everything perfectly. He made me look like such a whiner.

I'm so pleased you have Kona in your life. There's nothing like a dog.

Jenn said...

Kudos to you both!!! So glad Kona "hits the spot" in your heart. : )

John Lightner said...

WTG Glad you w/ Kona are doing so well
So happy for your bubbly post

Lauda said...

I am so happy Kona came into your life too. I miss my dogs, but I was never a very good dog walking type - I was an open the backdoor and let them out back to poop. In other words....lazy.....I love it that you love to walk your dogs....I need to rethink this thing...maybe it is not so bad.

Anonymous said...

I love watching the Dog Whisper on Saturday mornings. He is the best and I have learned some things from this show. My little dog (Sadie) and I just walk on our street and there are no distractions so I don't even use a leash, she's scared of the grass as it has "sticky burrs" that hurt her little feet. But good for you and Kona getting out and being social - healing/heeling :) Trudy from Texas