After my recent slice describing my disappointment in Miles’ behavior, I am happy to praise him in a slice today.
A few months ago I wrote about Miles not being a good walker. I would carry him down the street or bribe him with treats to walk ten feet. Once he began walking willingly, he would bark at every noise he heard and every person, car, or other dog he saw. Determined to one day take pleasant walks with my pup, I sought outside help. I hired a dog walker to come and walk him every Thursday thinking she would train him for me. After a few Thursdays, Sue reported that he is one of her best walkers, and doesn’t make a peep. “He’s such a nice walker,” she would text along with a happy video of a cooperative dog. I couldn’t understand it. How could this be? As happy as it made me, I cringed inside. I’ve experienced this before with my kids- they know how to behave for everyone else but their mom.
Our walks continued to be stressful and far from pleasant. “Maybe your money would be better spent if we walked together,” Sue encouraged. So last Saturday, Sue, Miles, and I headed out of my driveway. I should have been embarrassed at his behavior, but I was elated that Sue was witnessing our walk failure so she might help me. She pulled me over on a side road and modeled proper leash holding and how to disagree with misbehavior on the walk by giving the leash a wiggle, wiggle, wiggle.
As we continued on our walk, we passed a house with a large golden retriever three times his size on the lawn. Miles barked at him immediately and then barked and barked some more. “Turn around,” Sue instructed, “We are going to do that again. This time once he barks, disagree- wiggle, wiggle, wiggle on his leash.” Once more he barked. “Again,” she said and we turned around and repeated. “Again… Again…Again.” The scene from Miracle on Ice flashed through my mind when Herb Brooks repeated again…again…again to the US Hockey Team after they tied Norway in an exhibition game and were forced to skate back and forth on the ice. (I realize many not understand this image.) It was certainly not as brutal, but I thought we would never stop. We repeated the walk past the dog again and again until Miles politely walked by, quiet as could be. I’m not sure if he understood what we wanted or if he was just bored of the scene.
I’ve been practicing since last Saturday. Today we had what I would call our first successful walk. We passed a group of three people, a father pushing a stroller, a man cleaning out his car, a woman reading on her porch while her dog barked at us behind the storm door, and for the grand finale, the large golden retriever on the lawn- all in silence! The one bark came as we were almost home and a motorcycle sped by us. I’ll forgive that bark. I told the guy to slow down, too. We are making progress!