When I walk my weimaraner Remy, I try to rotate between training him to walk at my side and giving him freedom to walk in front.
Most dog trainers seem to think it’s OK to rotate between “training” and “freedom” because it’s unreasonable to expect a dog to heel or walk perfectly at your side for an entire 60-minute walk.
Heck, it’s hard for some dogs to focus for even 2 minutes! We’re asking them to walk painfully slow and ignore everything interesting.
So, my questions to you are:
1. Do you rotate between “training” and “freedom” on your dog walks?
2. How do you communicate to your dog the difference between the two?
First I want to comment that I don’t think it’s as simple as “training” vs. “freedom.” Remy and I have at least 3 different “modes” on our walks.
We have 3 walking modes:
Mode 1: True training walks. This is where Remy and I are both really focused and we work on heeling and obedience commands like stand, stay and down. We do this for about 10 minutes most mornings.
Mode 2: Power walks where I hold Remy at “heel.” To be honest, he’s pulling almost the entire time when we do this. I still tell him “heel” but I’m keeping him in place with a tight leash. About 50% of our walks are like this, so a good 3 hours per week.
Mode 3: Freedom walks. I let Remy walk in front of me, pee on things, sniff, etc. He’s usually pulling, although not hard. This makes about the other 50% of our walks, so at least 3 hours per week.
I wanted to point out the above to give you an idea of what our walks look like. It’s not so simple as “training” vs “freedom” because of those walks where I’m holding him at a heel.
*In the comments, let me know if you have similar “modes” and how often do you spend time in each?
How does your dog know when it’s OK to “check out” from training?
Here are two ideas that can potentially make things clearer for you both:
1. Use two different commands/cues.
One word for when you want your dog to walk at your side. One word for when you want to let your dog take a break.
My words are “HEEL” for working on heeling and “BREAK” to signal take a break.
I usually say it’s best not to repeat a command, but when working on “Heel” I repeat it a lot. I also repeat “Break” when I want my dog to have freedom.
2. Choose two collars or a harness and a collar.
Clip the leash to one collar or harness for training and to the other collar or harness when you’re not training.
My friend who is a professional dog trainer (Hi, Christine!) suggested it can be helpful for a dog if you clip the leash to the front of your dog’s harness for training and to the top of a harness when you’re not training.
What do you guys think? Would this be helpful for your dog?
For example, she said she uses the Freedom harness for her dog because it has a ring for the leash in two places – at the dog’s chest and on the dog’s back. So with that one tool she can easily switch the leash from one spot to the other.
Most of us don’t use a Freedom harness (you can order one here), but the same concept could apply with any two collars or a harness. Christine is a positive reinforcement trainer, and she highly recommends the Freedom harness.
I’m trying this concept using a harness and a collar.
I have an EasyWalk harness, which is also designed to limit a dog’s pulling. It has a ring for the leash at the dog’s chest.
For the last 2 weeks, I’ve been having Remy wear his harness and prong collar at the same time, and I clip the leash to one or the other depending on what we’re doing. You could use whatever collar you want – a flat nylon collar, a slip collar or a Gentle Leader.
When I want Remy to remain at my side, I keep the leash clipped to his prong collar and say “Heel.”
When I want to give Remy freedom to walk in front, I clip the leash to his harness and say “Break!”
After trying this for a week, it has removed stress for ME.
Physically switching the leash gives me permission to check out from training.
Rotating between the two tools has definitely helped Remy and I both feel more relaxed.
When we’re working, we’re working. When we’re not, we’re not!
This reminded me of how some working dogs (guide dogs, police K9s, etc.) wear a harness or vest when they’re working or training. This helps signal to the public that the dog is working but it’s also a signal to the dog.
There are cons to using this method:
1.There are risks to clipping the leash on and off. Some dogs might dart away if you’re not careful. (Be careful!)
2.Your dog has to wear more gear. Remy wears his flat nylon collar, his prong collar and his harness so it gets to be a lot! No big deal in our case but it could get annoying depending on what you’re doing.
Sometimes if I know I’m not going to work on training I just leave the prong collar home and we use the harness the whole time or vice versa.
I also want to mention, you can use whatever two collars/harnesses/tools you want.
You don’t have to use a harness. You could use a Gentle Leader or a Halti for training and your dog’s flat collar for freedom walks. Or any combination. Your dog will likely pick up on the difference if you’re consistent.
Now, I’m curious what the rest of you think of these ideas.
Would you use two different collars? One for training and one for freedom? Or do you think that’s making it overly complicated? I’m not sure if I will continue it or not, it’s just something I’m trying for a few weeks.
Do you use two different commands/cues for training walks vs. freedom?
Let me know in the comments! Thank you for reading and participating. Please share this post with others if you found it helpful.
Five Questions with Kimberly from Keep the Tail Wagging
That Mutt: What’s something you believe in that other people think is crazy?
Kimberly Gauthier: I believe that I’ve seen ghosts—a few times.
Sydney has growled at a spirit in the house; Scout has dropped a ball for one. A teenager died in a car accident near our property, I saw him walk across our porch that night. My father has visited me. And Blue comes back to visit us from time to time.
My boyfriend thinks I’m nuts and will mumble “this should have been a first date conversation.”
TM: What is the worst raw feeding advice you’ve heard?
Kimberly: The worst advice I’ve heard came out of my own mouth and I owe the person on the receiving end a big apology.
He messaged me about buying a family pack of chicken and planned to start raw feeding that evening. The worst advice was telling someone that they had to start their dog on a balanced diet and that’s not true. You want to slowly introduce some dogs to a raw food diet and he was doing it right by starting with one cut of meat—he could add liver, offal and new proteins every week or so as his dogs acclimated to the new diet. #KickingMyself
TM: What’s something weird that happens to you on a regular basis?
Kimberly: I hate the sound of people sniffing big globs of phlegm and swallowing.
I’m sure there aren’t many people who enjoy the sound, but I absolutely hate it because my mom had a friend who did this when I was a kid. It was so gross.
I must have said something horrible as a child, because Karma has arranged it so that I often end up sitting next to this guy who sniffles big globs of phlegm and swallows it. I’ve had to change cars to avoid him—it doesn’t always work.
TM: Do your dogs sleep in your bed?
Kimberly: Sometimes. My boyfriend and I sometimes work different schedules and if he has to get up early, I’ll sleep in our guest room so that he gets a full 8 hours of sleep, otherwise he’s kind of a jerk.
The dogs meet me at the bottom of the stairs on these nights because they know they get to join me when I sleep in the guest room.
TM: Anything you want to say to That Mutt’s readers?
Kimberly: Let’s improve our relationships in the pet lover community by keeping an open mind and asking questions before passing judgment.
And, when you finish reading this, please check out my new book, “A Novice’s Guide to Raw Feeding for Dogs,” which is currently now available on Amazon. It’s a book that covers everything I’ve learned about feeding raw to four dogs over the past 4-1/2 years.
The PooVault is a hard-sided container that can hold used poop bags until you get to a trash can. It’s hands free and odor free. It traps in the odor, and it really works. It also clips to your belt loop or leash. I prefer to use the carabiner to clip it to my belt loop.
This post is sponsored by PooVault. Leave a comment below to enter our giveaway to win a FREE PooVault. Click here.
I’ve featured the PooVault on That Mutt before, and you can read my full review here: PooVault review.
The PooVault is available HERE and if you use code THATMUTTCUSTOMER you can get 17% off.
Here are 5 reasons you might want to use the PooVault:
5 uses for the PooVault
1. The PooVault for professional dog walkers.
If you’re a professional dog walkers or pet sitter, you might want to consider the PooVault for certain routes or clients. Some dogs poop more than others (Ace), and some routes have more trash bins than others.
The “vault” is also nice if you know you might be stopping to chat with clients or potential clients. Nothing like shaking someone’s hand while holding a used poop bag in the other! The PooVault is more professional!
One of my readers, Keith, is a dog walker and I asked him if he would send me a photo of his dog Emma Lou with their PooVault. Keith said he usually carries it, however Emma Lou is carrying it for the photo:
Thank you, Keith and Emma Lou!
2. The PooVault for walks with no trash bins.
I’m lucky to live in a very dog friendly area with trash bins and dog bag “stands” everywhere. However, there are a few parks and routes we take that don’t have as many garbage cans.
I keep the PooVault clipped to my belt loop with the carabiner it comes with:
3. The PooVault for hiking in rural areas.
There aren’t as many trash bins on the trails we visit compared to our urban walks. I try my best to get the dogs to “go” as soon as we get out of the car because there’s usually a trash bin there. Once on the trail, we might not see another garbage area for a couple of miles.
My dog Ace moves very slowly … and poops a lot, so it’s nice to have the PooVault handy until we get to a trash bin. With a slow-moving senior, that can take quite a long time!
Remember this beautiful photo we took last year in Yosemite?
Well … here we are about 90 seconds earlier …
My dog defiled Yosemite National Park.
Kind of ruins the moment, doesn’t it? Haha.
4. The PooVault for walking multiple dogs.
If you’re walking multiple dogs, you can only carry so many used poop bags along with your leashes. One of That Mutt’s readers, Janis, uses the PooVault for dogs Kee and Syd.
They sent us this picture:
Thank you Janis, Kee and Syd!
5. Bringing a “sample” to the vet
A few of That Mutt’s readers commented on our last post that they’d use the PooVault for bringing in a stool sample to the vet. You know, less smelly that way!
Believe it or not, but I’ve actually transferred used poop bags in the trunk of my car after a dog walk because there weren’t any trash bins where we were hiking. Call it dedication, I guess, but boy was it smelly without a PooVault!
It’s good for all dogs to be comfortable wearing a muzzle, not just aggressive dogs.
You never know when your dog might need to wear one, but if he does, you want the muzzle to be a positive or neutral experience for your dog.
Let’s face it, if a muzzle is needed it’s usually because the situation is already stressful in some way. That’s why it’s important that the muzzle doesn’t add even more fear or stress to your dog. You want it to have the opposite effect or at least neutral.
Some examples of why your dog might someday need a muzzle:
Even friendly dogs bite when they’re hurt or scared.
Your dog might act very differently during or after a traumatic event. (And “traumatic” to a dog could be something fairly simple.)
Some breed discrimination laws require dogs to wear muzzles in public based on breed, not behavior. You never know what breed or mixed breed will be targeted.
“Dangerous” dog laws are tricky. Your dog might legally be required to wear a muzzle in public someday based on one fluke experience that wasn’t his fault.
Why my dog Remy needs a muzzle
I have a stubborn young weimaraner who mouths and bites when I’m trying to do something basic like trim his nails. Annoying, but not a huge deal …
However, when Remy was hurt in July he would not let us clean his wound without trying to bite us.
We were backpacking in the mountains with some relatives and their dog. The first evening, the other dog attacked Remy and tore a hole in his ear. Going to a vet wasn’t a realistic option due to our location, but we needed to do our best to keep the wound clean.
You know all those articles that recommend you keep a muzzle in your first aid kit? That is good advice. We didn’t have one.
It took one person to hug him tight and try to hold his mouth shut while the other quickly put antibacterial cream on his torn ear.
This is not exactly ideal, but we made it work.
I decided it would be a good idea to buy a muzzle for Remy so I have on hand in the future. I haven’t gotten one yet. Let me know in the comments if there is a brand or style you recommend.
How to get your dog used to a muzzle:
I wish we’d had a muzzle with us in July, however a muzzle is even more useful if your dog has positive associations with it.
In our case, I would’ve just slapped the muzzle over Remy and called it good. That’s just what you have to do sometimes.
But ideally, you want your dog to associate a muzzle with FUN, AWESOME things like treats, peanut butter, steak, belly rubs, walks, car rides – whatever he loves! You don’t want him to associate it with the vet, nail trims, pain, medications, etc.
Here are my steps to help your dog get used to a muzzle:
You don’t have to follow these steps exactly. These are here to help you brainstorm.
I would wait a day or more between each step to slowly get your dog more comfortable. Practice each step for just a few minutes at a time and keep it fun.
VERY IMPORTANT: Don’t tease, laugh at or feel sorry for your dog when you train him to wear a muzzle. This will only make your dog feel anxious or bad about the muzzle. Instead, you should be SUPER JEALOUS of your dog’s awesome jewelry! Treat the muzzle like it’s an expensive watch or necklace. It’s something to be proud of!
“Wow, what a handsome boy in your new jewelry!”
“Wow, so pretty, What a good girl you are!”
Now, onto the steps:
Step 1: Let your dog sniff the muzzle, give a treat and praise.
Use steak, jerky or hot dogs. When the muzzle goes away, the treats stop. Your dog thinks, cool, I get treats when that thing is out!
Every pet owner can use a lint roller, but do you have a GIANT lint roller?
We tested out three products from Evercare, including the Extreme Stick Mega Surface Roller designed for removing pet hair from stairs, beds and other difficult to reach surfaces.
We also tried their small “Lint Flip” travel lint roller which fits easily into a purse or bag. I plan to keep mine in my car.
I know pretty much all of you could benefit from these products because, let’s face it, cleaning up pet hair is a constant battle!
To enter to win a FREE prize pack of the three types of lint rollers mentioned in this post, just leave a comment below. Click here. I’ll choose two winners. *The winners have been chosen.
This post is sponsored by Butler Home and Evercare.
Evercare Lint Rollers Review
My thoughts on the Evercare lint rollers:
I like these products because they work well, and they’re more stylish and functional than an average lint roller.
Sure, they’re still “just” lint rollers, but Evercare has a variety of different options and sizes.
I’ll show you the three products we received:
Lint Flip Travel Lint Roller
The “Lint Flip” travel lint rollers are small enough to fit in a purse or bag or to keep in your car. I recommend them for pet sitters, dog walkers and dog trainers but they’d also be nice for people who work office jobs and need to “de-hair” before work.
The nice thing about these is you just “flip” it shut when you’re done to keep the new sheet clean or to hide the nasty hair already stuck to it!
This is the giant lint roller I referred to earlier. It’s a lint roller on an extendable handle designed for easily reaching stairs, rugs, beds or other difficult to reach surfaces.
It’s easier to use than a vacuum and saves time. The handle extends out to 36″. I use it when I don’t have the time to use the vacuum or Swifter or just want to quickly get the loose cat hair off our bed.
This is a reusable dry sponge for removing pet hair from clothes, carpets, furniture or your car. It works really well for removing dust and hair from our smooth couch and rugs.
It really is like an “eraser” because you use a little friction to rub the hair off the surface. The lint rollers mentioned above work great for removing hair, but the eraser is better at removing dust and lint.
The only downside is you have to eventually wipe the hair and dust off the sponge but it’s reusable.
The unique thing about Evercare is that it makes several different lint rollers and lint brushes in all sorts of different sizes. They’re also more stylish than your average lint roller. For example, the Lint Flip Travel Lint Roller comes in four different colors.
Pros of the Evercare Lint Rollers:
Many different sizes and options to meet your needs
Stylish and fun
Available on Amazon and various retailers
They work well
Replaceable rolls available for all products
The Mega Surface Roller comes with 25 sheets. It would be nice if it came with a replaceable roll but you can order more as needed.
I would recommend these products for …
The Lint Flip Travel Lint Roller is perfect to keep in your purse or car and I would recommend it for professionals who work with pets or any pet owner who needs to “de-hair” before work! Both these products would also make fun gifts for anyone who has pets.
The Fur Erase sponge is a product I never would’ve purchased but now that I have it, it’s really nice to have. I recommend it for wiping lint, dust and hair off your furniture or cloth car seats. Our couch finally looks clean without having to vacuum!
And finally, the mega stick lint roller is also an easier alternative to vacuuming. Obviously we all need to vacuum on occasion but the mega stick is nice to use in between. My cats sleep on my bed and it works well to quickly catch all the loose hair in a few swipes.
Lindsay Stordahl Lindsay Stordahl (with her mutt Ace) is the blogger behind That Mutt.
Julia Thomson Julia Thomson (with her mutt Baxter) writes regularly for That Mutt.
Barbara Rivers Barbara Rivers writes for That Mutt about raw dog food.
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