I can't believe it took me three years of owning my dog to discover clicker training...
My only problem with my lessons with Kathy Cascade that I was having a hard time wrapping my head around was the two leash control. It seemed that I had to spend a lot of time focusing using them correctly and it was quite cumbersome. I know that I still wasn't using them how she wanted me to and I have no doubt that in her capable hands it's a great method (I've seen it!). However it was taking the fun out of our walks and just like not all training methods suit every dog, I guess they don't suit every person either, because I really didn't care for it. But I love having him in the harness, he is visibly so much more relaxed in it.
While doing laundry tonight, I was reading "The Idiot's Guide to Positive Dog Training" and it stressed over and over that the leash is not a tool, it's a safety net. It finally started to click. The way I was using it up to this point was undoubtedly a tool. And a tool that when it frustrated him, he hit the end of it. I began to wonder if I could really get him to walk on a true loose leash and focus his attention on me (aka... build our relationship), how far it would help go with his reactivity. So I decided to try it.
I hooked his leash up to the harness on top, but just held the end of it instead of looping it through and holding essentially two leashes in different hands. I took my clicker, three kinds of treats mixed up and we headed out. Well, first he had to sit calmly before he could go out. Out the door, I stood and waited for him to look at me. Click and treat. We did a lot of this. If he get too far ahead of me and I could see his butt, I turned and walked the other direction. It took very very little time for him to be walking next to me, glancing up at me. I took the opportunity to click and treat his loose leash walking frequently and also glancing up at me. Within minutes, he was walking like a pro.
Granted this was at night with very few distractions (although we were walking on a well lit campus!) it's still a milestone in our relationship, I think. On the way back home a skateboarder was approaching. This has always sent Toby over the edge, he's not a big fan of wheels. I walked about fifteen/twenty feet away from where he would be passing and put Toby in a sit. He stared up at me adoringly. The skateboarder rolled by, rather noisily, and Toby didn't once look away from me. I really expected him to look, and then ask him to look back at me and start walking away, but he never took his eyes off of mine.
Tomorrow morning is another session with Allen. Hopefully it goes as well as this did!
If a car is approaching a stop sign rather quickly, even if you are in the crosswalk, it's a great idea to stop and make sure they are going to stop. I noticed this car zooming up and as soon as we got to the street, I started to jog backwards to get Toby to come (this has been a lot of fun for us too!) and whaddya know, that guy BLEW through the stop sign. So glad we didn't start walking.