Tag Archives: loose leash walking

The Highlands Street Fair!!!

The Out-U-Go! Booth

Out-U-Go! at the Highlands Street Fair

Out-U-Go! Boulder is thrilled to help our friends down the road at Out-U-Go! Denver host a booth at this year’s Highlands Street Fair!  Held annually in the heart of NW Denver, the Highlands Street Fair has booths from hundreds of local businesses as well as 3 stages for music, food, drinks, dogs and fun.  Stop by our tent to say hello, enter our raffle and let us pass out tasty treats to your pup(s).

We are looking forward to our second year in a row at this awesome event!

The Highlands Street Fair is taking place all day long on Saturday, June 18th.  The street fair will be up and down 32nd Street in the Highlands in NW Denver.  You can find out more about the entire event here http://www.highlands-square.com/StreetFair/index.htm.


Doga Anyone?

Out-U-Go! & Boulder’s Natural Animal are once again teaming up to host Boulder’s next awesome outdoor charity event!  Our last event, the Pampered Pooch Spaw Day for Charity, was such a huge success (we raised over $1200!) that we’ve already begun organizing Doga for Charity!  Stay tuned to our Facebook page for the exact date and time, but this awesomely fun and hilarious event will take place this summer outside Boulder’s Natural Animal hospital.

All funds raised will be donated to the Humane Society of Boulder Valley.

Plan on a day of fun in the sun, canine massage, food and drinks and…. DOGA!

Any pup can participate, no matter how long they are able (or not able) to stay in one place 🙂

The team at Out-U-Go! and Boulder’s Natural Animal are looking forward to keeping everyone posted as more details develop, but based on the level of success we had with the Pampered Pooch Spaw Day, we think you’re in for a treat!!!!

Tales from a Naperville Pet Parent!

Are you ever amazed and shocked at how much you are willing to do for your pet? Like you have this logical sanity that tells you, you won’t spend outlandish amounts of cash at a vet because it’s just a dog, but when confronted with the puppy dog eyes and potential loss of your dog, all logic goes out the window? My husband and I just went through this with our dog, Penny. After throwing up for three days, we went to the vet because now she wasn’t even taking fluids. X-rays (X-rays!) confirmed Penny had a large quantity of something in her stomach. We were certain it wasn’t food. Blood tests were drawn, but since she wouldn’t take in fluids, they were unable to collect a urine sample. Thus, we were sent home with a urine collection tray and instructed to collect a urine sample ourselves.

Unsettled, I went home and searched for hope….on the Internet, of course. Oooh! They have pet prayer blogs. Score. I’m not the best at prayer, but I’m still God-fearing and wanted at least someone praying for her. And incidentally, did you know that there is a patron Saint of dogs!? St. Roch. Note to self: See if bobble-head or hula dancing St. Roch exists for the dog crate…or car dashboard.

So the morning came and Penny was ready to go outside for her morning potty. Commence operation urine sample. How does one collect a urine sample from a dog? Ideally, husband who is dressed in full suit for a wake later that day duck walks behind the dog with aforementioned collection tray waiting for the female dog to squat. You, the neurotic wife, follow behind barefoot and in pajamas, gesturing wildly with suggestions. After contribution has been made, take syringe provided with collection tray and draw the urine from the tray. Deposit into a jar of your choice. Should that be an old jar of baby food from when you hosted a Kappa Delta brunch and your friend brought a child and strained carrots, so be it. Repurposing at its finest.

After vet confirms that blood, urine and all other vitals are fine, begin thorough poop investigation. This is not a fun job because you have neglected to pick up yard poop for the past few weeks because….errr…it’s cold outside. I save my empty, vegan, protein powder jugs for trash poop collection. Wait, doesn’t everyone? After donning a pair of latex gloves, I tried to pep talk myself into the task at hand.  The first method was simply to detach emotionally by taking on an alias of a CSI technician or a dinosaur archeologist. I still wasn’t feeling enthused. So I started narrating the process in my head with an Australian accent. That made the task more bearable. Finally, hurrah! I found the trouble-causing toy that has made its trek successfully through the land of doggy digestion.  Peace and sanity was restored in the kingdom. Now we are on to more important matters, namely finding dashboard saint figurines.

Amy Gausemel , Client of Out-U-Go! Naperville                                                                 Proud pet parent of Penny, a 1-year old Treeing Walker Coonhound

Loose Leash Walking

Loose leash walking… it’s what separates mutt from maven, puppy from prodigy.  We all want it, but few truly achieve it.  Ask any dog walker which skill they could impart to any dog, and I’ll bet most would say “good leash skills.”  In fact, most owners would likely agree.  So, how do we go about teaching our pooches to cut us a little slack?  Here’s a few tips that are likely to get you off on the right paw.

First, let’s talk equipment.  Again, ask any dog walker what their least favorite piece of equipment is, and this time you might get a more unanimous response:  “RETRACTABLE LEASHES”…usually uttered with disgust.  Simply put, retractable leashes are the wrong tool to use if you want to teach your pup to walk nicely beside you.  It gives your pup mixed signals.  Are they supposed to stay at your side?  5 feet away?  10 feet?  There is not enough consistency with a retractable lead to give your dog a clear idea of where you want him or her.  I also don’t trust those flimsy buttons to save me when I need my dog to stop for traffic.  I like to use a nice nylon or leather leash, no more than 6 feet in length; 4 foot leashes are nice for bigger dogs whose heads come up to about the waist.

Beyond the leash, there are several harnesses on the market, most of which claim to keep a dog from pulling.  Let’s be clear:  the only thing that will stop a dog from pulling is YOU.  Some harnesses help, but there is no magic solution that will instantly work.  That said, there are a few harness that I like because they offer control.  It’s all about control, people.  The gentle leader (my personal fave) is a harness that goes around the muzzle and then clicks behind the head.  It gives the walker a lot of control over the dog’s movements, since the body has no choice but to follow the head.  Control the head, control the dog.  A lot of pups do not like the feel of the gentle leader on their muzzle, so you may have difficulty getting your pooch to accept it.  If this is the case, I would look into the Sensation harness.  It’s a body harness that allows you to connect the leash to the chest of the dog instead of the back.  It’s more comfortable for most pups, and still allows you to control the front end of the dog.  I stay away from any harness that connects to the back of the dog, as it tends to create an opposition reflex and actually causes the dog to pull harder.

Okay, enough about equipment.  Let’s move on to technique.  I find that when I’m training a dog for almost any reason, it is helpful to focus on what I want them to do, rather than what I don’t want them to do.  In the case of leash walking, picture in your head what that looks like.

What a "J" looks like, for the alphabetically challenged.

Envision what the leash looks like coming off of your dog’s collar or harness.  It should look like a “J”, where the leash comes down off of your dog with slack before coming up to meet your hand.  With this mental picture in mind, begin walking with your pup.  Any time that leash has the nice, loose “J” look to it, use your marker (either a clicker or whatever word you usually use, e.g. “Yes!”).  Follow up the marker with a treat or whatever reward your dog fancies (attention, a pat on the head, etc.).

Of course, most walking sessions will not start out this way.  Most pups are so eager to get out on their walk that the pulling starts almost immediately.  In this scenario, one technique is to simply plant your feet and wait for your pup to come back to you.  If needed, you can give a pat on the leg or make a sound that will get their attention.  As soon as they come to your side and the leash is loose, use your marker the mark the behavior and follow with the reward.  The timing of the marker is very important.  You want to click or use your word at the precise moment that you get the behavior you want.  The reinforcement should come quickly, but should follow AFTER the marker.  Once the dog is at your side, continue walking again, and repeat the drill every time your pup starts pulling again.  Stop, plant your feet, get your dog to come back to your side, mark, reward.  They will soon learn that pulling gets them nowhere, and being by your side gets them attention and/or food.

If this doesn’t seem to be working (and remember, BE PATIENT!), you can add a slight modification.  When your pup starts pulling ahead, simply change direction and walk the opposite way.  Once they’ve caught up and are nicely walking at your side, mark and reward.  This also teaches them that you are in control of the direction of the walk, and if they put tension on the leash they don’t get to go where they want.

You might look silly constantly stopping, turning around, patting your leg, and making kissy noises, but who cares?  It’s a lot less embarrassing and frustrating than having your pooch take you for a walk.