Spoon Training, and some sad news

When we first got Beanie, she walked well on a loose lead without any training. The only problem we had was that when she heard a new noise or came across a new smell, she would stop for a moment and we’d have to encourage her forward. Lately however her confidence and sniffing ability have increased, with the result that she now pulls on the lead for the biggest part of the walk and always on the return home.

We’ve been trying all the standard techniques to rectify this: stopping dead and waiting until the lead goes slack, suddenly reversing direction, and giving treats to hold her attention and to reward every couple of good steps. Unfortunately none of these methods have been particularly successful so far.

  • The first one – stopping dead – makes even the shortest walk take forever, and Beanie’s quite happy to sit each time we stop, before launching into a forward thrust the second we start to move again.
  • The quick 180 method doesn’t seem to work with our beagle either. As soon as we turn, she happily starts pulling in the new direction. It’s her developing nose that makes her want to pull, and I guess she’s perfectly happy to perform multiple sniffings of the same spot.
  • The treat dispenser approach is very difficult to do – you’ve got to deliver the treats at the right time and keep ’em coming, and all the while your lower back is screaming at you to stand up straight.

Eventually Susan stumbled on an easier solution: a long handled wooden spoon coated with Kong Stuff or cream cheese.

Spoon Training

This works great as you can see – we can walk upright and Beanie stays almost glued to the spoon. Every step is a good one! It’s virtually a self-dispensing treat. If you coat both sides of the spoon you can just swivel it around as the first side is licked clean, doubling the distance you can go before a “reload”. Over time, Beanie will hopefully get so used to walking smartly that it’ll be second nature. Of course there is still a drawback – you get some funny looks from passers by, and the urge to explain yourself is almost overpowering. If you care about street cred, this approach is probably not for you.

Finally, some sad news. One of Beanie’s sisters, Ruby, has been hit and killed by a car. Apparently she was wearing a harness with a plastic fastening. The fastening broke open and the poor little pup ran out into the road. I can only imagine how her owners must feel. The news has certainly made us even more determined to work hard on Beanie’s recall and obedience, and we certainly won’t be going near any collars or harnesses that rely on plastic.