Choosing where to go on walks

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JudyN
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Choosing where to go on walks

Post by JudyN » Fri Apr 17, 2015 6:18 am

For our morning walk I usually let Jasper choose where to go. He has a lot of choice and we often end up at one of two different heaths, the woods, a playing field outside a school, the park, the trailway, the place he spotted deer and injured himself on barbed wire (so stays on lead), the pet shop, the post office where he gets Bonios, the house 2 doors down where to b!tches live... and more. (I don't let him go into the pet shop or post office unless I have reason to go in, or we'd be there every day.)

Some days he'll head for a heath, clear in his mind what he wants to do, and we'll be out for over an hour. Other days he'll go to the top of the trailway, have a poo, and turn for home.

Often, though, after a lot of verge-sniffing, we will reach a junction and he'll put the brakes on, not seeming to know what direction to go in. Generally, after expressing reluctance to go in any direction, he'll finally decide to go home. I worry that on these occasions he's anxious about being put in the position of making such difficult decisions and that this might be exacerbated by me not seeming to know where we should go either as I'm asking him to make the decision.

One way he often does choose is the path up behind the sports centre but that's the one I always have to refuse because it's narrow and he usually kicks off at any dog we meet up there.

I could impose my decision - he understands my sign for 'We're going this way if I have to wait all day' - but if I go home he's missing out on a decent walk, and if I head off for a longer walk he might not be in the mood - and might put the brakes on every few yards.

Something that may be relevant is that he often seems reluctant to leave the house for these morning (and occasionally afternoon) walks, but once he's outside the house he's usually fine. I sometimes wonder if he's just holding out in case I decide to bribe him :wink:

So - should I carry on letting him choose where we go, or should I show a bit more leadership so he doesn't feel the weight of all this responsibility?
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

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Nettle
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Re: Choosing where to go on walks

Post by Nettle » Fri Apr 17, 2015 12:54 pm

I'd say try it and see.
A dog is never bad or naughty - it is simply being a dog

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Dibbythedog
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Re: Choosing where to go on walks

Post by Dibbythedog » Sun Apr 19, 2015 6:47 am

You could be over thinking this and worrying about it too much. Give leadership a try if you like but dont worry if decide to carry on as "normal" .

JudyN
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Re: Choosing where to go on walks

Post by JudyN » Sun Apr 19, 2015 6:54 am

Dibbythedog wrote:You could be over thinking this
Me, overthinking things? Can't see that happening..... :wink: :lol:

I'm pretty sure that if I tried the leadership thing he'd just stop every few paces and we'd have a frustrating walk. But I just wonder if he finds all this decision making a bit much!
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

Dibbythedog
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Re: Choosing where to go on walks

Post by Dibbythedog » Sun Apr 19, 2015 12:00 pm

:lol: I have a fridge magnet that says I used to be indecisive not I'm not so sure. :lol:

When I'm on walks with my OH at the park, it goes like this -
Me to OH "what way to you want to go now."
OH to me "I dont mind . What way do you want to go "
ME to OH " I dont mind either, Why do I always have to decide?
OH to Me " erm .."

The dogs have already gone ahead by this time . :lol:


If you're thinking about this on walks maybe Jasper is picking up this up , they pick up the slightest sign of tension or worry
so I think you should just relax and let him chose.

mansbestfriend
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Re: Choosing where to go on walks

Post by mansbestfriend » Sun Apr 19, 2015 6:50 pm

Hi Judy. My thoughts: I can see the benefits in showing *appropriate* guidance when needed, but also think leadership can be overstated and used badly.

After Max the GH's strict upbringing as a racer, I always like to see that he's now comfortable enough to communicate a preference (to go left, right, straight ahead, whatever), that may or may not be most convenient for me.

I think it's good for him to be allowed to start making more decisions now but every so often he'll look a bit lost or confused in the big bad real world. In those moments, it seems helpful to quickly give some positive guidance like a motion fwd in THIS direction or gentle leash 'pressure' in THIS direction, and a cue like "Lets go" (taught from scratch), and praise/toy/treat/whatever reward for reinforcement of a 'good' behaviour.

Sometimes with Max (and Kelly dog too) we just have to do what I think is in our best interest at that moment, even if it's not ideal.
Cheers. :)
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jacksdad
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Re: Choosing where to go on walks

Post by jacksdad » Mon Apr 20, 2015 12:32 pm

been thinking about this since you posted.

you know Jasper best, but typically I would think NOT being able to make a choice or have some level of control over his own life would be more likely to cause the unwanted stress.

the first thing that popped into my head when you posted this was the line Nettle uses sometimes...everyone gets a vote, but I have veto....

My two cents, odds are it is better to give him the freedom to choose WHEN it is safe to, you have the time to allow it etc. you know him best, you will know when you making the choices is the best thing for him, and you will know when it is ok for him to choose.

with Jack, when I have the time, when it is safe, I let him choose the "path" we take on walks. sometimes he chooses to not even take a walk. it's take care of bodily needs and back to the house. other times it is take care of bodily needs and then find some place to sit and watch the world go by, other times....

BUT in all cases the final decision lays with me. not be cause I am "the leader" in the way a lot of dog trainers insist we be. But rather I am better able to assess what is best for Jack in the human world. for example, just walking out into the middle of the street to sniff...not a good idea. not waiting for cars to finish going by before going out into the street...another bad idea. going down street X with the dog he is still reactive to, not going to happen. long full hikes at 6:30 the morning before work, I don't have that kind of time...

just some examples of when I would override Jack's choices. on the other hand, if I have time, he's choice is safe, he isn't pulling etc..I just let him choice the direction the walk takes. I actually find it fascinating what he chooses, what he finds interesting and so on.

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