Theresa and DaVinci learn how to connect.
(This is a guest blog by Theresa Urbanczyk)
My name is Theresa Urbanczyk and my dog is DaVinci. I’m 53 years old and work full-time for a trade show management company. I love animals and nature. I love to garden and do landscaping, as I love to be outdoors as much as I can. I love going for long walks with my dog. I’ve done dog sports with my previous dogs, but mostly walking is what I do with my new one now.
DaVinci is 2 ½ years old and is half Bernese Mountain dog and a Great Pyrenees. I adopted him from a shelter a few months ago and didn’t get too much history on him.
He is a big powerful dog and I didn’t want him to pull me down the street or pull my arm out of the socket anymore.
This big dog didn’t know how strong he was.
The struggle that I have with DaVinci is walking without pulling. Since he is such a big dog and is pretty powerful, I didn’t want to have him drag me down the street or pull my arm out at the socket anymore. The things that get him really excited and he starts pulling me are squirrels, rabbits and other dogs; especially if the other dog is going a little crazy behind its fence. I would like to be able to take him anywhere I go and not pull or get overly excited about those things. I would like to walk together with him and have him pay attention to staying with me. Not get distracted about all the other triggers that get him excited, and not to pull.
In the past, I’ve tried to pull him back, tried to stop and hold but that didn’t work well. Sometimes I would get him going with difficulty and at others he would still pull to where I would get frustrated with the walks. I know he got frustrated too, because sometimes he would put on the brakes and not want to go further.
I wanted to have Kathy help me with him as I’ve worked with her in the past with my previous dog for both agility and herding. I know she’s good with dogs and can read them very well. She can see what the problems are and what solutions to come up with to help us work as a team. After reading her method/5 C’s, it makes so much sense as to why teamwork sometimes just doesn’t happen.
I’m teaching him that ‘partners’ don’t pull each other around and it starts with me.
Working with the 5 C’s, I’m learning to communicate better with DaVinci so he really understands what I’m asking him to do. I also see if there is something he does not like to do, I do not force the issue and try another way around it. If he doesn’t like to go in a certain direction, I find a way to make a wide circle around an area to where I’m eventually going in the direction I want to. This way I’m not pulling him and I’m teaching him that ‘partners’ don’t pull each other around.
There were a lot of times when my body would be going one way, and I’m trying to get him to go another. I can see where I was confusing him. I also learned the value of high end treats to reward him and get his attention on me when he’s really distracted, even if it’s just a few seconds. Those few seconds help to get him re-focused on what we were doing which is going for a walk together.
Learning from our mistakes is hard work but it’s worth it.
The walks are better, as long as I stayed focused and pay attention to what I am doing and saying, and what DaVinci is doing. When I become distracted, he often begins pulling me towards something more interesting, and it can get very hard to stop him, especially if I don’t take action right away. When this happens, I try to see how I can better help him next time, learning from my mistakes.
The improvements I see with Kathy’s methods, not only help me communicate better with DaVinci, but with people. I also had a tendency to say one thing and mean another. It helps me devote myself to getting it right with working as a team with DaVinci and the results show when I come back from a walk with him and I’m very relaxed; and so his he.
My plan is to be able to take DaVinci to “Bark in the Park” and “Woofstock”.
I had to put our work on hold for a couple of weeks as I really pulled my hamstring muscle and could not walk that well so I’m waiting until I can walk without worry about it being re-injured. I can do slow walks now without limping, but I believe in another week I can start at it again. Since taking my long walks now is not an option, I’m working on getting DaVinci to focus more on when I call or stopping when coming excitedly at me when I come home from work so he doesn’t jump on me.
All of Kathy’s methods are tied together from wanting to walk as a team to not jumping up or coming when called. If you are not clear on what you are asking your dog to do, he will be confused. If you do not communicate clearly, he doesn’t understand. You have to take the time to work with him. Everything takes practice. I know there will be setbacks as I do make mistakes, but hopefully by remembering the 5 C’s, they will be less and less.
My plan for the future is to keep at it so we can eventually go to places where there are other dogs, such as events like “Bark in the Park”, or “Woofstock”.
In the meantime, I’m really enjoying spending time with my new partner.
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