I’ve found it quite difficult to train my bipeds to walk nicely on the lead. I have to coax them along very carefully. I should be able to tow my bipeds along at the speed I choose – I’m big and strong, it should be easy! I’ve seen bipeds being towed along, arms straight out and the lead taut, it always looks so delightful to me. Some very small dogs seem to manage it very well. I sometimes think I have the most stubborn bipeds on the planet! But I think I should take you back to the beginning, so that you can see how this came about and, hopefully, other puppies will be able to avoid my mistakes.
My first mistake was that I didn’t understand how important it was to train my bipeds to walk well on the lead. I initially refused to walk when the lead was attached and they had to tempt me with treats. Getting as many treats as possible seemed like a really good plan, but, with hindsight, I can see my priorities were wrong at that early stage. They’d managed to get the upper paw, quite sneakily I might add. I discovered the importance of bipeds being lead-trained when I had my first real walk and I set about training them afterwards.
This early training was mostly on the female biped, as the male biped had a problem with his ankle when I was young. I set about teaching her to go in the direction I wanted and at the speed I wanted, but she responded really badly! Every time I put the slightest tension on the lead to get her to go faster, or in a different direction, she would turn and set off in a new direction of her own as though she was in charge. This was so frustrating! I spent weeks doing everything I could think of. When I thought I’d come up with a really good plan – this was to pull and bounce as hard as I possibly could – she just stood still and refused to move at all. After a few weeks of these attempts, I settled for coaxing her along, with no tension on the lead, at the pace she liked – for the time being.
When I was about six months old, I decided it was time to move her training on a little. She could now walk quite nicely, if I applied no tension to the lead and I allowed her to choose the direction. I was much stronger now and I thought I could put my strength to good use. We walked a few hundred yards this particular morning and then I decided we should walk a little faster, so I applied tension to the lead. She said, “Clowie, don’t pull!” I didn’t release the tension as she was expecting me to, instead I pulled much harder. She tried to change direction, but I was prepared for this – I just refused to move at all.
She said, “this way”, but I remained on the spot. She then told me to sit, using a very firm tone of voice. She knows my weakness! So, of course, I sat. They had spent weeks brainwashing me, so that my first thought on hearing ‘sit’ is that I’ll get something tasty if I comply! She told me I was good for sitting and then asked me to walk. We took two steps, I pulled on the lead and she told me to sit. We spent the next few weeks doing what I call the sit-two-step. It goes like this – step, step, sit, step, step, sit, step, step, sit, ad infinitum!
I became so bored that I gradually did a few more steps without pulling, in the hopes of actually getting somewhere! We gradually made better progress and I resigned myself to coaxing her along at her pace. I’m sure this is what she intended all along!
Although I’ve failed in training them to walk the way I’d like, I have discovered that my ‘walking nicely’ as they call it has its benefits. I get to take my bipeds on lots of lovely walks and, sometimes, when we have a family day out I’m allowed to walk very small nieces and nephews on my lead. One of my bipeds stays close by with a handy supply of very tasty treats. And the cuteness factor of walking with a young biped who can’t see over my shoulder always gets me lots of attention and admiration from all the bipeds around.
See you next Wednesday!