Leash Training Breakthrough!

I was a bit embarrassed at puppy kindergarten this week.

Farfl in her cosy parker

Farfl in her cosy parker

Our homework for the first week of puppy training was having the puppy on a leash tied to you at all times except if the puppy was tethered while you were doing something like cooking. Let's just say it didn't exactly go to plan.

One of the issues I hadn't quite counted on with a small dog is that although you can find tiny, lightweight harnesses (chihuahuas have delicate necks, so collars aren't recommended when they're puppies) and you can also find light, nylon leashes, the clips on those leashes are disproportionately heavy. Poor Farfl must have felt like she was carrying a beer keg on her back!

She could just about cope with the little harness I got her (although she scratches at it a lot) but when I attached the lead she went nuts. She sulked in her bed for a long time and shook a little. I felt awful. Every time I tried to walk with her on the leash she just stood still and I ended up dragging her. No good at all!

I had some success using a clicker and treats to lure her towards me as I held the leash, but overall she was unenthusiastic.

Heather, the trainer at the PetSmart kindergarten, was really supportive on Sunday at the class. She said some little dogs have real problems with the weight of the clip and I should maybe think about replacing it. I came home, fired up the sewing machine, and attached a small bracelet clip I had in my craft toolbox.

Today I had to go to the mailbox to post a couple of letters and I decided to take Farfl with me. I put on her parka (it's -6 degrees Celcius here) and her leash and went outside. At first she was a bit scared and stood looking at me, not sure what to do. Then a bouncy boxer puppy came along and I picked her up out of the way (she's still only had two rounds of shots, so I didn't want her to get bounced or a doggie disease) and carried her to the post box. I put her down when I posted my letters and she walked all the way home with me! She did her first poo and pee outside (I had to take her back to the house to get a baggie) and wagged her tail all the way - she really loved it!

When I got back inside I took her coat off, but kept her leash on. Then when I walked with it in my hand, she followed along really naturally. I'm so looking forward to the weather getting warmer so I can take her out more often and for longer. But for now at least she's got the hang of the leash training!

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