Bratty Beast Earns While He Learns

Klon Kar

We love Good Citizen Klon. He’s a great dog and his basic obedience behaviors are pretty solid. By he’s also (largely) a Pyrenees, and Pyrs work solo. They don’t herd in collaboration with a shepherd or another dog, they guard.  Pyrs hang out with the livestock and use their own judgement about what’s a threat and how to handle it. The good news is they have a mind of their own. The bad news is, you guessed it, they have a mind of their own.

I decided to take Klondike to the Berkeley Marina last night, as much for me as for him. GCK already had a medium morning walk with Mieko and Chris took took him Point Isabel late morning.  However, having spent the last few days out of town I wanted a long walk and to spend some time with the beast. And it was a beautiful night, very dark but clear and crisp.

First two thirds of the walk were great. I enjoyed seeing the port of Oakland off from the Marina, and city of San Francisco beyond that.  Klon went off leash and had some great pick-up games of tag with some other dogs. Lots of trotting, running, sniffing and smiles. And when recalled KlonBeast came running like a fur covered freight train, much to my pride and perhaps a little envy from the other owners.

Problem started when we turned vaguely toward the parking lot and the Klon decided to slow walk. He’s pretty much 100 pounds and if he chooses to walk at 1 MPH to protest a wrong direction you can’t do much. This was a fairly significant issue a few months ago, right after we adopted him. We worked on this and the behavior greatly subsided, even went away. But there it was last tnight.

To train him off dragging we mainly did two things

  • Standard heel training. Dog walks on left side, leash in right hand and draping across the body, going over left knee. Trainer pats left pants pocket and if the dog has his nose there he gets a treat
  • Reward slack leash. When the dog is dragging, every time the leash gets a little slack give him a Good Dog and perhaps a treat

Last night when he started dragging he got praise and occasionally one of Mieko’s Klon Cookies (beef, cheese, peanut butter). And we got to the car somehow, but it was far more work than it should have been.

So… this morning Klon skipped breakfast (not his idea, I assure you, but I wanted him a bit hungry) and I took him on the same walk as last night, hoping he’d resist in the same place. And he did, though not nearly as much.  And this morning, every time there was a bit of slack in the leash after he’d been dragging or he trotted to catch up with me he got some of his super special cheese. My nuclear training weapon. He got a lot of cheese but I’m hoping not to have to this conversation with him again for a while. Let’s keep our fingers crossed. And yes, he also got breakfast later.

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