Cosi should be on your left side, walking at your speed, not pulling on the lead. Think of a rectangular box that would contain Cosi. This box should be big enough in all dimensions for her to fit, and the box should be at a position, just a bit in front of your footfalls. That is, your foot should land somewhere next to Cosi’s stomach or shoulders. She should stay “inside the box” next to you.
Cosi should be in “walk posture”, where her head is forward, her ears are down. She should not be looking around or have her attention on other things. She should ignore other people and other dogs. when in the walk posture, she should only be walking.
When starting, Cosi should be sitting facing forward. You should be standing with her on your left side. Start walking with you left foot taking the first step. You can say “Walk” if necessary, but ultimately, she should walk and stop with you without a verbal command.
When you stop, Cosi should stop and immediately sit. She should do this without verbal command.
If she goes out of the box, use the lead and the chain as a joystick and indicate where she needs to go to get back in the box. You are not pulling or yanking her back into position, but only using chain to indicate where she needs to go. if she is too far ahead, pull sharply (but not roughly) back once. If she is too far away from you, pull towards you. If too close, pull away from you. If it happens that she is too far behind, correct that, too, although that has not been a problem so far.
If you stop and she doesn’t immediately sit, pull towards the back. If necessary, say “Sit”, but try to do it only with the chain. She she site, it’s a good time to reach down and scratch her chest and say “Good girl”.
If she gets out of walk posture, a sharp tug towards the back is enough. She will sometimes try to pick up a stick, or go sniff a bush, or react to a neighbour’s dog, etc. All these should be corrected, so when she is walking with you, that’s all she is doing.
One of the things that seems to have made a difference is to have the walk be separate from going to the park to chase the ball. When I went right at the end of the driveway, Cosi seemed to only be focused on getting to the park. When I went left at the end of the driveway, she went more easily into walk mode, and by the time we were headed toward the park, she was firmly in walk mode, and not just going to the park.
There are three routes we took, mainly dependent on how much I wanted to walk, how much we had walked the last time. For example, the evening walk was adjusted longer or shorter depending on how long the morning walk was.
Route 1, the Long Walk: to the end of the driveway, turn left on Blue Fin. Turn right on Golden Bay. Turn Right on Christaluna. Down to the roundabout at Marlin Way, turn right. Turn right on Blue Fin and up to the park.
Route 2, the Medium Walk: Same start except turn right on Guarnard then up the hill to the park.
Route 3, the Short Walk: Same start except turn right on the footpath that leads to Breaksea Ct.
We always took Eric. He made an awful ruckus if we tried to leave him behind. He is on the longer (red handle) chain. He also walks on the left side, but is free to walk “outside any box”, free to go ahead, behind, off to the left, as far as the lead would allow. He was really good at letting me know if he needed to pee or poop, by walking behind me and going into the berm to the right of the footpath. When he did that, I stopped, had Cosi sit while Eric took care of business. When done, he returned to his spot to the left of Cosi.
Ending the Walk
We always end the walk at the top of the grass area of the park. There were three steps to end the walk:
- Have Cosi sit and, with showing her the palm of the right hand, stay. I then dropped the lead.
- Take Eric’s lead off by unclipping it from his collar. He was then free to do his Eric, it’s good to be a dog, activities.
- Cosi is still sitting so I now scratch her chest, saying, good girl. I then take off the chain by pulling it over her head. She is then ready to chase the ball.
We found a place that sells tennis balls for a dollar each. They were at the new Woolies, but they sold out after about a week. The other place is the two dollar, discount store next to Target at the Coles shopping centre at Meadow Springs. We liked using the tennis balls over the more solid rubber balls. The tennis balls didn’t last as long, but Cosi does not like to chew them as much as the rubber ones. That means she will return the tennis ball and drop it for another throw more times than the rubber ball, which she would often chase only once before she hunkered down for a chew.
Of course, I’d take the rubber one if the weather was hot or nasty or I didn’t want to throw the ball a lot.
When Cosi got tired of returning the ball for another throw, we’d walk home. I did not put Cosi or Eric back on their leads. This is their time to be dogs, their “dog walk” time, not another “people walk” time. Eric would sprint ahead or lag behind, but I’d use him and the pace setter for how fast we got home. Cosi would explore the bushes or lay and chew or just celebrate being a dog at whatever pace Eric set.
When we got home, I’d tell Cosi to wait as I opened the door and let Eric in. Then I’d go in. Then I’d say OK for Cosi to come in. She would go straight out the back for a drink of water. We’d close the doors to keep her out for a bit. She has a tendency to get a bit wet after drinking so we’d let her dry out before coming back into the house.