Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Harness Training

When we got the boys, I had the idea to train them to walk on harness and leash, so that I could take them places like PetSmart and the vet without them freaking out, and also so that it would be easier when it came time to move, since they would already be used to taking trips. Well, the boys, being who they are, freak out no matter what (they hate even having the harness on them, and Luke got afraid because he thought that the leash was chasing him), so I haven't pushed the issue much, because I want them to become less fearful before I start bringing them on outings. Every so often, I put their harnesses on and let them run around the house, just to get them used to the feeling of having a harness on, and sometimes I put them in their carrier and take them for a ride, usually just when I'm picking up Elijah from work or class, so they get used to the idea that just because they're in the carrier doesn't mean that I'm taking them to the vet.

Leia, on the other hand, outgoing girl that she is, is showing real promise with the harness. The first time I put it on her, she was confused for a minute, because there was something on her, but other than that, she was fine, and basically ignored it altogether. I put the leash on, and other than wanting to chew on it when it got into her line of sight, she was fine with it, and didn't mind when she reached the resistance when she got to the end of its reach. I walked with her on leash around the house a bit, letting her lead the way, and she was perfectly comfortable. I've done that a few times, so she gets even more comfortable wearing the harness.

Today, I took Leia out for a trip to PetSmart. She's not crazy about riding in the car- when she's in the carrier, she gets upset and escapes (didn't take her long to figure out where the velcro closure was- the top has zippers along the sides and a velcro closure on the end, and she fought her way out through the velcro, something that the boys have never even thought of trying to do. In order to avoid that, Elijah and I have been teaching her to stay calm, sitting on a lap while she's in the car. So while I drove Elijah in today, she stayed on his lap. Mostly she was fine with it, but she did want to explore a little. He restrained her when necessary. After I dropped him off, it was a little tougher to keep her on my lap, but having the leash on helped- when she wanted to explore, she could only go as far as the leash, which didn't let her off my lap. She learns quickly.

I took her into PetSmart, and we went to look at the birds first, before getting to the cat section. She loved watching the little finches flit around. When we got to the cat section, I put her down, and she was a little scared at first, wanting to hide under the fixtures, but I wouldn't let her, and gently pulled her out with the leash. She was pretty content to explore, but also let me guide her, coming towards me when I called her name and put a little pressure on the leash. We got the things that I needed to get, and then she helped pick out a toy. She got a little scared when a woman came by with a squeaky cart, and she tried to run away, but I picked her up and held her, and we went to meet the lady, since she seemed interested in Leia. Then a couple came by with their dog, which scared Leia again, so I just held her tightly in my arms, and then we went to check out. I put her on the floor so that I could pay, and she wanted to explore/hide in the area where the cashier was standing. I paid, picked her up, and we went to the car, where she was pretty good about staying on my lap the whole time.

Here she is with her new toys:


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