August 24, 2010

Dropping The Leash

Part of working on a reliable stay with Ruby means I need to be able to drop her leash in public. It's possible that she could become accidentally separated from her partner when she is working, so I want to familiarize her with the feeling of being untethered in a public place without her breaking the implied stay of a "sit" or "down" command.

As far as how comfortable I am with dropping her leash in public, it feels like handing the car keys over to a teenager learning how to drive – you just have to let the trust outweigh the terror!

When I'm with her in a store and I want to practice, I just don't make it a big deal. Ruby's not really interested in adults or children passing by, so I feel pretty confident (I think...) that she's not going to take off. We're strolling along, I stop to see something and put her in a "sit" or "down," drop the leash, and walk ahead a few paces. Then I walk back, treat her for staying put, pick up the leash, and we move on for awhile and do it again.

If I feel she's in a good, relaxed state, I'll keep increasing the distance between us. She was doing very well at this shoe store, so I dropped the leash and walked past the aisle to the mirror. I think she was able to see me when I turned the corner, even though there were about three seconds when I couldn't see her. I'll admit, in those three seconds, I had visions of a gleeful Roo flying down the aisle with a boot dangling out of her mouth, losing her in this shoe maze, and eventually finding her devouring the heel of some $200 pump! But, of course, she hadn't moved an inch.

All in all, it was a pretty controlled environment, the store wasn't very crowded and had few distractions. So Mr. Raiser and I took her to Target and chose a noisy spot at checkout.

To start, I walked out about six feet while still holding the leash. She was mildly interested in a cart going by, but she didn't show any sign of getting up.

She was calm, so I tossed the leash and we practiced in different areas, just to change the context. She was great all around.

I've mentioned that service puppy raisers live and train by a philosophy of "Set Your Dog Up For Success." The dog's triumphs are even more striking when you realize that she has reached the point of also setting YOU up for success; what an amazing feeling it is when a nervous raiser can drop the leash and draw assurance from the confidence within her dog!


KatieEGriffin said...

Rowena and I have been doing this at my office this week and she's doing great so far! Glad Ruby is still such a star!

Lori Jablons said...

You guys continue to impress! Isn't it an incredible milestone when you can take a pup shoe shopping and she doesn't go crazy? I bet it was ten times harder for the shoppers to pass Roo by and not pet her. Everyone was tested on this outing! Keep up the great work. :)

Ruby's Raiser said...

Great job Rowena and Katie!!! Sounds like you're having an awesome time together. :)

♥♥♥ The OP Pack ♥♥♥ said...

And doesn't she look so proud in that last pic - proud of herself AND you:)

Woos ~ Phantom, Thunder, and Ciara

Susan Gallacher-Turner and Michael Turner said...

How wonderful!!!
Amazing to see her doing what you've taught her with such confidence.
Congrats to you and Ruby, too.

I know what you mean about terror, though, taking Jilly off leash in different places started out that way for me, too. But in the months that we've been practicing, she's just gotten better and better. I think I'm the one who has gotten more confident!

Kari in WeHo said...

Ruby is such an amazing dog. She seems to have the best temperament and is so smart.

Don't forget, we moved to

Amanda said...

Your blog post made me smile because I walked away from Kyle while he was in a down stay in public for the first time this a shoe store. It sounds like Ruby is doing a wonderful job at earning trust! :)

Fiona, as typed by Dr. Liz said...

That is fantastic!!! And yes, she is definitely (and deservedly so) proud of herself!

*kissey face*
-Fiona and Abby the Mutant Puppy

Khyra And Sometimes Her Mom said...

Mom wants you to know she's giving me those 'Oh Khyra' looks!

Great job Ruby!

Alphini's Puppy Raiser said...

Oh Ruby, that's awesome! I agree with Lori, it's the shoppers who I don't trust when the leash is dropped. Way to go!

Roxanne @ Champion of My Heart said...

That is so terrific. Have you ever read Control Unleashed? It's a book mostly for people who have dogs that are too fearful or too excited to do agility easily, but there is a part called "We don't need no stinking leashes" that cracks me up.

1000 Goldens said...

Good girl Ruby! I can only imagine how wonderful it would be to have such a well trained dog :)

Lisa, Ellie and Hosta said...

GOOOOD GIRL RUBY. Way to go! That's awesome! With so many distractions too! You're really growing up!

Daniel said...

This is awesome... Ruby seems like an incredibly intelligent dog. I love it. :)